Loughborough College and the National Space Academy have announced their successful joint bid to develop the first ever Higher Apprenticeship course in space engineering.
The country-wide programme will offer work-based degree-level training. The course will produce high-level technicians for the space sector, which is currently worth £9.1 billion to the UK economy.
Announcing the final tranche of projects supported by a £25m fund, business secretary Vince Cable, said: "Through the Higher Apprenticeship Fund we can target sectors where skills shortages are threatening to choke off growth. They also help us break down the doors of professions that are not representative of the society in which we live. Higher Apprenticeships are an essential step in rebalancing our economy and building a fairer country where growth is spread evenly and opportunities not limited to the privileged."
Dr Martin Killeen, Technology Business Development Manager at Loughborough College said: "The Higher Apprenticeship in Space Engineering will provide an accessible route to engineering skills and employment for under-represented groups, particularly women. The bid will create a national pathway for around 100 Higher Apprentices every year, funding a framework to deliver the Space Engineering course through partnerships between education providers and the companies employing the trainees at locations in England where space sector demand is greatest.
"This is a major success for Loughborough College which will complement another UK first, our new Space Engineering Level 3 course, which started last September."
Anu Ojha, Director of Education and Space Communications at the National Space Centre in Leicester, home of the National Space Academy, added: "One of the major potential hurdles that could stifle the space sector's growth is a lack of high-level technical entrants. These Higher Apprenticeships, starting in September 2013, will tackle this issue head on, strengthening the industry through these academically rigorous, sector-specific programmes with a focus on stimulating progression from Advanced Level into degree-level vocational pathways."
Skills minister John Hayes said: "By radically increasing the number of degree level apprenticeships we are putting practical learning on a level footing with academic study. Doing an apprenticeship should be one of the best gateways to university-level study."
For more information and to register your interest in the Higher Apprenticeship in Space Engineering visit the website here.