Solihull College & University Centre: Centre for Advanced Aeronautical Provision ‘Flying the flag for skills’

In Summary:

Company: Solihull College & University Centre
Location: Woodlands Campus Chelmsley Wood, Solihull
Project: Centre for Advanced Aeronautical Provision, a new training and education facility
Value of Local Growth Funding: £1 million
Value of Project: £3.72 million

In 2016 Solihull College & University Centre opened its Centre for Advanced Aeronautical Provision facility, supported by £1million of Local Growth Funding from GBSLEP.

Thanks to the state-of-the-art facility and highly qualified teaching staff, Solihull College is the only college in the West Midlands to deliver specialist aerospace training. It provides a range of qualifications delivered using state-of-the-art flight and simulation equipment, set to tackle the industry skills gap and galvanise the next generation of talent.

In line with the GBSLEP’s 2016-2030 strategic economic plan, the new centre will provide a wide range of opportunities, both at a regional and national level, for students looking to pursue a career in the aerospace and aviation sectors.

The opportunity

More than a quarter of the UK’s aerospace sector is based in the West Midlands and internationally, the region accounts for seven percent of Europe and three percent of the global markets. The sector supports over 45,000 manufacturing jobs and thousands more across airports and military bases across the Midlands. Yet, the future growth of the industry is threatened by one key challenge, skills.

Projects including Monarch AEL’s 110,000 square foot aircraft maintenance hangar and continued expansion at Birmingham Airport are evidence that the region is forging ahead, seizing the opportunities presented by its position as an international gateway. Yet, as these large organisations recognise the Midland’s unique proposition and look to increase their investments, the area must look to develop, retain and attract talent to cater for increasing demand.

Solihull College & University Centre saw this as an opportunity to carve a unique proposition for the region’s aerospace and aviation education delivery. The Centre has worked together with the LEP and thanks to Local Growth Funding, was able to enhance its aerospace programme by creating a demand-led local skills system, which aligns with supply and makes the most of apprenticeship provision and vocational education. This in turn will lead to a thriving higher education and training ecosystem, that will deliver industry-ready talent.

Delivery

Learners at Solihull College have been given the opportunity to benefit from a realistic environment through practical application and a purpose-built training centre. Industry savvy teaching staff and direct access to aviation organisations will be of value while the region benefits from encouraging trainees, and will entice those looking to study the sector by showcasing a valuable offering.

The facility, based at Woodlands Campus in north Solihull, has a variety of state-of-the-art equipment designed to encourage interactive learning and sector specific training. These include:

  • A former Royal Navy Bae Jetstream T Mk2 aircraft
  • A commercial flight deck simulator
  • A range of Turbo-Fan engines
  • A wind tunnel

In addition to practical learning, the college provides a range of intermediate and advanced aeronautical and engineering courses designed for those at all learning levels from undergraduates to school leavers. The unique facility is based close to Birmingham Airport and has strong links with the organisation, its supply chain network as well as a range of airline specialists. These relationships offer students key benefits including access and exposure to industry insight and support, something that is required for them to understand and develop the vital skills and ultimately, prepare them for the next step in their aeronautical career.

John Callaghan, Principal and Chief Executive of Solihull College & University Centre, said:

“We’re very grateful to the GBSLEP for providing financial assistance to help us address the skills gaps of the future in aerospace and aviation. I’m immensely proud of the staff that we’ve got here at the College and its through their industrial and higher education experience that the learners, our future workforce, can develop the skills needed and increase productivity for the West Midlands. We thank the LEP for making this vital project possible.”