UWE in training boost for aerospace industry

Issue date: 12 December 2008

From left : Sion Simon,  Keith Elliott , John Chudleigh and David Lennard The University of the West of England is part of a £481,000 Government-backed training programme to provide the aerospace industry with skills to build the next generation of aircraft. UWE will provide higher education modules in a project led by City of Bristol College to train staff to work with the latest fuel-saving lightweight construction materials.

The programme is one of five pathfinder projects worth £2.5 million just announced by Further Education Minister Sion Simon to ensure UK businesses can benefit from the specialist expertise of colleges and training providers, helping them to innovate to boost profits and competitiveness.

UWE will join a specialist network, called the South West Composites Gateway, comprising Aerospace Training SW, City of Bristol College, Yeovil College, West of England Aerospace Forum and GWE Business West.

The programme will develop and deliver Further and Higher Education courses to teach designers, engineers and assembly workers to work with composites. This material – a carbon-reinforced epoxy resin – is revolutionising the aviation industry and has already been used for the wings and the rear fuselage of the A400M aircraft, the first time it has been used for major structural parts of an aeroplane.

The courses will enable the network of around 800 small and medium-sized companies in the West that form the supply chain for aerospace giants such as Airbus, GKN and BAE to stay at the cutting edge as the next generation of aircraft takes to the skies.

Launching the scheme at Airbus in Filton, Further Education Minister Sion Simon said the South West Composites Gateway had won Government support because of the region's track record for co-operation between the aerospace industry and the education sector.

"The region is already an evolved and effective partnership between top quality colleges, universities and businesses. This project is about developing the knowledge through the industry and education partners that will be disseminated throughout the aerospace sector. Here in Bristol they're already blazing a trail in how to do this.

"So it's about putting some extra money to ensure the rest of the country learns the lessons that are already being learnt here."

The South West Composites Gateway project is worth £481,000 of which £94,000 will go to UWE.

Dr John Lanham from UWE said, “We are delighted to be part of this innovative programme. It will enable students to undertake modules at different institutions and build them into a single award. Courses will be tailored closely to the needs of individuals and their industry, and UWE has a long and successful track record of developing and delivering industrially relevant education and training. Specifically this project will complement to our existing postgraduate activities, the CPDA (Continuing Professional Development in Aerospace) scheme."

Editor's notes
• The South West Composites Gateway is one of five new training ventures launched under the Government's new £2.5m Further Education Specialisation and Innovation fund designed to help business make the most of the expertise and resources available in UK colleges. The fund aims to build FE capacity to help firms across the UK access the extra support they need to improve their business processes, develop new products and services and move into new markets. For more information visit


•Picture shows Sion Simon (MP, DIUS), Keith Elliott (Principal, CoB), John Chudleigh (Director, Learning and Skills Council SW) and David Lennard of UWE's Research, Business and Innovation group


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