Welcome aboard the future of the UK space industry!

The University of Leicester is supporting the future of the UK’s space industry after helping to develop the standard for a new Space Engineering Technician apprenticeship – the very first of its kind to receive Government approval.

Providing an important new route for school leavers and others to secure jobs in the sector, the new apprenticeship allows employers to recruit young people and train them in the specific knowledge and skills required by the space industry.

It is estimated that the UK will need 30,000 new recruits during the next 15 years to support its rapidly growing activity in space.

The university plans to offer apprenticeship training at Space Park Leicester, which will open in 2021. It will create a new regional cluster in the UK, integrating industry with academia; downstream space data and its applications with upstream engineering and integrating research with manufacturing.

Dr Nigel Bannister, Associate Professor in the University’s School of Physics and Astronomy, said: “We are delighted to play an integral role in bringing this vital qualification to the fore. From large multinationals to small enterprises, companies in the UK are at the forefront of the commercial space revolution - it is therefore essential that the right training is offered for future recruits into the industry.

“The international space sector is undergoing a major transformation as space becomes more accessible, and this new standard enables employers to recruit people with the skills needed to sustain and grow their business and ensure their workforce is trained in the latest technologies and techniques.”

Launching in January 2021, the Space Engineering Technician apprenticeship is the first to be recognised by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE), and will ensure that the UK will have the talent needed for the UK space industry's continuing growth. Approval of the standard means eligible companies could benefit from up to £19,000 funding from the Government through the apprenticeship levy.

In the UK, the space sector is thriving, generating an income of £14.8 billion, employing 42,000 people and supporting a further £300 billion of economic activity through the use of satellite services.

Space Park Leicester will play an integral role in the future of the UK space industry. It is a landmark initiative being developed by the University of Leicester in collaboration with local, national and international partners including Leicester City Council and the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership.

The university is providing academic leadership for the Trailblazer Group of space sector employers, who have worked to develop the apprenticeship standard. The group is headed by Airbus, and includes the UK Space Agency and some of the most significant and innovative large employers and SMEs in the industry.

As a founding member of the Trailblazer Group, the university has combined its 60 year heritage in space research and exploration, with its expertise in delivering training courses covering space science and engineering, to support development of the standard. These include helping to define the specific knowledge and skills training which apprentices will need in their course, and ensuring that apprentices demonstrate the required academic standards before they complete their training.