AN INNOVATIVE partnership between Airbus UK, Deeside College and NEWI has developed a foundation degree in aeronautical engineering manufacture.
A first for North Wales, this new qualification will be piloted with the workforce of Airbus in Broughton, where it is expected to boost Airbus recruitment by attracting youngsters who would otherwise go directly to university.
The foundation degree will offer seamless progression to honours degree courses for employees who have completed their engineering apprenticeship programmes.
Brian Fleet, Airbus UK's head of centre of excellence - wing, said: 'This is an exciting development as previously some of the youngsters it will attract might not even have contemplated studying towards a degree.'
The foundation degree, which has been validated by NEWI and approved by the University of Wales, will be jointly delivered at Deeside College in the first year, then at NEWI.
It will also link to the work-based training delivered by Deeside College staff at the Broughton plant.
'Once employees have completed their foundation degree, they will be able to progress to an honours degree course and they will also be able to apply for membership of professional engineering institutions such as the Institute of Electrical Engineers and Institute of Mechanical Engineers,' said Mr Fleet.
Gary Griffiths, Airbus UK apprentice programmes manager, said: 'The foundation degree is part of the new higher engineering apprenticeship that we are developing with our partners at Deeside College and NEWI.
'It has followed on from the higher modern apprenticeship that has proved so successful over the past six years at Broughton.'
David Jones, principal and chief executive of Deeside College, said: 'This is the first of many collaborative foundation degree initiatives planned between Deeside College and NEWI, which will benefit many different companies and individuals across a wide range of sectors.
'The foundation degree in aeronautical engineering builds on our successful partnership with Airbus UK, which was acknowledged in 2004 by the joint award of a UK Special National Training Award by UK Skills.'
Airbus training staff are also working with employers such as Rolls-Royce and BAE Systems to develop the HEA in England and under the guidance of SEMTA - the sector skills council for engineering in aviation.
This would allow Airbus recruits to join the scheme at Broughton's sister site in Filton, near Bristol.