The Royal Aeronautical Society’s second Education and Skills Conference on 1 October 2014 will see work begin on the framework for a Skills Roadmap for the aerospace and aviation sectors. 

Jenny Body, OBE FRAeS FCGI DEng (hc), RAeS Immediate Past President and recently appointed as Chair of the Society’s Education and Skills Committee, which will facilitate this work, explains. 

Why do you think the Skills Roadmap is needed?
JB: A lot of work has now been done to define the technology requirements for civil aerospace and defence resulting in some key investment for the sector and the Skills Roadmap is really the final piece in the jigsaw to identify the skills needed to deliver future products and the operations of them. 

Why is this work important now?
JB: Skills have been on the agenda for some time with companies struggling to get the right people at the right time. Now is a particularly good time as the aerospace and defence industries have demonstrated a collaborative approach through the Aerospace Growth Partnership and Defence Growth Partnership respectively, developing a bigger picture, especially for the UK. Both the AGP and DGP have recognised that skills are the key enabler to deliver growth for their sectors and we can build on this collaborative approach to deliver the skills needed.

Why is the Society facilitating the work?
JB: The Skills Roadmap needs to reflect manufacturer needs – civil and defence aerospace and space – and operator needs i.e. the originators, operators, facilitators and enablers identified through the Education and Skills Committee as making up the sector. The RAeS, with its multidisciplinary footprint, strong links with the education sector and impartial status, is therefore well placed to facilitate this work.

Who should contribute?
JB: It’s really important that the ultimate users of the skills – employers – contribute; only then do we get the full skills requirements built in. However, it’s equally important that those providing the skills also contribute as they know the constraints and challenges of delivering the skills. The intention is to produce a roadmap –not only mapping out what is needed but also planning what routes we need to follow to get there – so the contributions of skills users and skills providers are equally important. 

When will the Skills Roadmap be completed?
JB: This is not an inconsiderable task and I think it will take a year to produce fully. Therefore, we are setting ourselves the task of presenting the Skills Roadmap in one year’s time at the committee’s next annual conference. However, this year’s conference will focus on defining the framework of the Skills Roadmap, based on contributions from those attending. Some aspects of the framework are likely to be easier than others – for example, the OEMs’ requirements, while big, may be easier given the recent work of the AGP and DGP, while other areas may prove more challenging as less work has been done to date. That is why it’s great to see we have such a balanced mix of delegates representing both defence, aviation, further education, higher education, OEMs, maintenance and the space sector, as well as those ‘feeding the pipeline’ - working to inspire younger people to work in the industry and take relevant subjects at school. I hope that those who feel their area needs to be represented within the roadmap will attend the conference and engage further with the committee to ensure their voice is heard.

What is the intended impact of the completed Skills Roadmap?
JB: Similar work, such as the Technology Roadmap, has had a powerful impact. The resulting paper will be a single source of information on skills requirements and pathways which has been developed by the sector and can be used by the sector to support skills and education development funding requests, government policy-making, outreach planning and so on..  Discussions I’ve had about the roadmap with the AGP, DGP and parliamentary representatives have been very supportive and I hope to see this replicated throughout the industry and I am really looking forward to being involved in this project. 

Useful links:
Education and Skills Conference : event booking page

RAeS Careers
24 September 2014