Marshall today announced plans to open its second UK-based Skills Academy in Cranfield, Bedfordshire, from September 2024 with an initial intake of 200 young people.
Located adjacent to Cranfield University’s campus, in a prime location at the heart of the UK’s eastern aerospace and defence cluster, the new site will make Marshall Skills Academy’s industry-leading apprenticeship programmes available to businesses across the aviation and engineering sectors.
The decision to substantially boost Marshall Skills Academy’s capacity and geographical footprint was made in response to rapidly growing demand against the backdrop of an unprecedented global technical skills shortage.
In addition to its traditional apprenticeships offering, Marshall is also proposing that the new facility be home to one of the UK’s first University Technical College (UTC) “Sleeves,” a technical educational pathway which offers first-hand experience of engineering skills, delivered within an aerospace workshop, to secondary school pupils interested in careers in aviation or engineering from the age of 14 upwards. These proposals will form the basis of consultation with local schools in the area.
In April, recognising the existential risk posed by the chronic skills shortage and the need for immediate collective action, Marshall convened the inaugural Marshall Skills Summit at Cranfield University. The event gathered senior leaders from the aerospace industry, academia and public sector organisations including representatives from Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier, BAE Systems, British Airways, GKN, MBDA and Lockheed Martin, who all committed to playing a part in developing a sustainable future talent pipeline.
Marshall CEO Kathy Jenkins explains: “The level of attendance, engagement, and commitment from across the industry at our Skills Summit was exceptional. We are grateful to all who attended for giving us more than enough confidence to take a bold step and extend both our footprint and our provision for young people.
“Whilst we all recognised there is no quick fix to our skills challenge, we are all in complete agreement that we can do much more to make progress together.
“As the training arm of a business that has prepared well over 20,000 young people for technical careers over more than a century, Marshall Skills Academy is uniquely positioned to understand and respond to the problems facing the sector, but we certainly would not be taking this step without the support and collaboration of the wider industry.”
Ian Muldowney, Chief Operating Officer of BAE Systems Air, who took a leading role in the group discussions at the Skills Summit, explains: “The Marshall Skills Summit laid bare our shared concerns as an industry and sharpened our resolve to act together to tackle the skills shortage while there is still time.
“The creation of a new Marshall Skills Academy in Cranfield is a highly exciting development. Having worked extensively with Marshall on joint projects and seen the benefit of having mixed training cohorts together, I am confident that Marshall can deliver the training solutions that are sorely needed in aviation and engineering.”
As a neighbour, Cranfield University will play a supporting role in the development of the new Skills Academy through its significant expertise and access to a wider network of local educational organisations.
Professor Karen Holford, CBE FREng, Chief Executive and Vice-Chancellor of Cranfield University, welcomed the announcement, saying: “We are proud that Marshall Aerospace has chosen Cranfield as the location for this vital new training facility, which is set to boost skills critical to the sector’s future.
“The relocation of Marshall Aerospace’s UK headquarters to Cranfield also provides an exciting and unrivalled opportunity for collaboration and skills development. As the UK’s only specialist postgraduate university and with a proud history in aviation innovation, we are looking forward to sharing our deep expertise in aerospace with learners at every level.”
Responding to the announcement, Baker Dearing Educational Trust chairman Lord Baker commented: “I am thrilled that a UTC Sleeve will be piloted at the new Marshall Skills Academy in Cranfield.
“The aerospace industry is a British success story, constantly innovating new technology and delivering enormous economic benefits for areas across the UK.
“A UTC Sleeve, delivering high-quality technical education to secondary school pupils, will help build a pipeline of young, skilled, work-ready professionals through the academy and into the aerospace sector.
“The Baker Dearing Educational Trust looks forward to working with Marshall and Cranfield University on this new pilot. We are eager to show the UTC Sleeve initiative is workable and delivers results, as it is already at the UTC Sleeve at Abbeywood Community School in Bristol.
“We know employers in other sectors will be watching this pilot with interest.”
Minister for Defence Procurement James Cartlidge said:
“We are hugely proud that defence is one of the leading apprenticeship providers in the UK, offering a range of schemes from engineering to business administration and finance.
“The opening of this Skills Academy in Cranfield will continue to bolster our UK workforce, providing the necessary training and expertise to ensure the UK’s cutting-edge military capability and thriving defence industry is supported into the future.”
As Marshall Skills Academy prepares to onboard its largest training cohort ever this year, it continues to grow its training team and deliver apprenticeships for a record number of aerospace organisations. To do so, from this year onwards all Cambridge-based practical and classroom apprenticeship training will relocate to a spacious and fully modernised facility.
Outside the UK, the Skills Academy model has recently been expanded into Canada with the launch of an “Earn as you Learn” pilot programme in the province of New Brunswick.