Business Minister Michael Fallon praised Airbus’ dedication to the future of the aerospace industry during a visit to the Broughton plant this week.

He was in North Wales to announce the first intake of students in a £6m Airbus-sponsored graduate scheme that will support more careers in aerospace.

The government has awarded 100 bursaries to employees and graduates at the plant to study Masters (MSc) level degrees in aerospace engineering, which will help the sector develop the high-level skills it needs to compete globally.

The bursaries will cover the cost of tuition fees up to £9,500 and will encourage participating students to forge relationships with UK aerospace companies through project work and placements.

During his visit on Tuesday, where he also met apprentices manufacturing the wings for the new A350 XWB fleet of aircraft, Mr Fallon said he was ‘delighted’ to be involved in the scheme.

“It has been my pleasure and privilege to be here at Airbus to see the construction of the A350 first-hand, and to share the first steps we’re taking in this very important industry,” he said.

“The Masters programme is an excellent example of government and industry working together to keep the UK competitive, as it will help us meet the urgent demand for engineers in this country.

“This is a great step forward in commitment to the industry and I am particularly pleased that 19 places have gone to women – well above the average for the sector, which bodes well to encourage more females to get into aerospace engineering.”

Mr Fallon added: “The Aerospace Technology Institute will be based at Cranfield Technology Park in the East of England, which will ensure it can operate with the necessary independence to work with partners from right across industry and academia.”

Mark Stewart, Airbus in the UK General Manager, said: “As a global company we understand that only by having a diverse workforce can we access the best talent and skills and that’s why we’re completely committed to advancing the role of women in engineering.

“Airbus was happy to be one of the key Company Sponsors of the MSc Scheme and it’s especially pleasing to see such a high number of female engineers successfully taking part in the scheme – something that will be good for both Airbus and the wider UK economy,” he added.