Aviation businesses laud apprenticeships


The week of 7-13 February 2022 is National Apprenticeship Week in the UK. Marking the occasion, skills specialist Seetec Outsource shares how its apprentices are aiding certain UK aviation businesses.

One such company is 2Excel Group, which has its main aircraft engineering base in Hampshire and aviation bases at Doncaster Sheffield, Sywell Aerodrome in Northamptonshire and Stansted Airport.

Louise Campbell, group HR director at 2Excel

Louise Campbell, group HR director at 2Excel

“On the engineering side, we have an ageing workforce,” said Louise Campbell, group HR director at 2Excel. “We risk losing that knowledge and experience, and as an industry there is a real struggle to recruit and fill aircraft engineering vacancies.”

“What could be better than hiring apprentices, so those skilled engineers due to retire can share their expertise?” said Campbell. “With the challenges the industry faces, apprenticeships are an efficient way of growing your own talent. You get great loyalty back by investing time and effort into them.”

As an early adopter of apprenticeships, Norwich-based charter flight operator SaxonAir has started working with Seetec Outsource, recognising Seetec’s willingness to adapt available apprenticeship standards to meet the needs of the business, while maintaining their integrity.

“The UK aviation sector is world-leading and a major employer, yet there is a real lack of recognised, rigorous professional training,” said Alex Durand, SaxonAir CEO and former pilot.

“There’s a real scarcity of appropriate aviation apprenticeships on the operational side,” said Durand. “We have done the hard work to get our apprenticeship programme up and running and adapted to our needs, we see it as the way to grow and get the right skills in the business.”

Alex Durand, SaxonAir CEO and former pilot

Alex Durand, SaxonAir CEO and former pilot

“We need a proper, structured aviation pathway in the UK,” continued Durand. “We want the apprenticeships to be shaped and moulded to the work we do. Apprenticeships are really important to give our workforce a structured understanding of our work and give everyone the same language.”

“Apprenticeships are not just for school leavers,” Durand added. “We have asked our experienced people to undertake them too, offering everyone the opportunity to upskill. Our experienced people will then have recognised qualifications, which reflect what they have learned and applied. We work in a challenging environment with highly skilled, highly motivated professionals, and I think it does everyone a disservice if they don’t have the accreditation to reflect that.”

At 2Excel Engineering, such has been the success of its engineering programmes, that the business decided to recruit an apprentice to its aviation operations team last year. The quality of applicants was so high that two were recruited.

Jordan Morris, 26, and Elissa Hennessy-Boyle, 18, joined 2Excel Aviation at Doncaster Sheffield Airport with their ground specialist apprenticeships delivered by Seetec Outsource.

“Elissa and Jordan have made a great start to their apprenticeships, and we applaud the positive contributions they are making, not just to their teams, but to our business and to the aviation industry,” said Simon Spurgeon, director of ground operations.

“I really like the job because no two days are the same,” said Hennessy-Boyle. “I’m so glad I didn’t go to university. Being in work and being able to earn money suits me.”

“My apprenticeship is really good,” said Morris. “When I started, I’d been out of education for eight years, and I wasn’t sure how I would take to it. But our assignments relate to real-life situations.”

Campbell of 2Excel is enthusiastic about the flexibility Seetec offers and the way the two apprentices have engaged with their learning. She believes apprenticeships also offer opportunities to increase the ethnic diversity of their workforce and attract more women into engineering.

At SaxonAir, Durand said developing the aviation apprenticeship structure will help to raise employment aspirations in Norfolk: “In some parts of the region, it’s hard for school leavers to feel there’s a route for them. We offer an interesting environment they wouldn’t necessarily be aware of, which is literally on their doorstep.”

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Izzy has been part of the Business Jet Interiors International team since its second issue, and the editor since 2011. She also edits Auditoria and Railway Interiors International. Outside of work, Izzy is rediscovering her love of art by learning how to paint with watercolors.

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