By delivering £2.7 billion of economic activity and 71,000 jobs, Gatwick is the region’s single biggest driver of economic growth. It supports one in twelve jobs across the Gatwick Diamond area, and we are very conscious of the huge number of livelihoods that depend on the airport’s continuing success.
But this success cannot be taken for granted. We know that every effort must be made to create the right environment and opportunities for growth, on the airport and across the wider region, and that includes developing the education and skills needed by the next generation.
I find my role hugely rewarding but I can only make a real difference to the lives of young people by working closely with a wide range of partners, including local schools, colleges, local authorities, charities and a host of other community-based projects.
Broadly our mission is to help the next generation through the airport’s ‘Inform, Inspire, Invest’ education programme, which offers a series of opportunities for young people so that they can develop new skills, no matter what their background.
We look to ‘Inform’ students about the wide range of careers available to them by giving them the information they need and by raising their aspirations. Our Learn Live broadcasts, for example, focus on careers at the airport and let local students tune in to online broadcasts where they can hear from and put questions to our technical experts.
We also have a focus on ‘Inspiring’ young people – including female students - about the relevance of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects in the world of work. And it is not just the airport that needs to attract more people with these skills, the nation does too. According to the government, the UK needs more than 200,000 new engineers alone to meet future demand.
One of our most recent programmes is even looking to train teachers so that they are better able to bring engineering-related projects to life in the classroom. The idea being that they, in turn, are then better able to inspire the children they teach.
We are also investing in our future workforce in other ways and have an established four-year engineering apprenticeship and three-year engineering graduate schemes to help young people enter the workforce.
Last year we had a total of 26 apprentices and graduates take part and we are also working with long term unemployed local residents to help get them into work with our many retail, food and beverage outlets.
Around 57% of airport staff live locally. It is important that any future growth at the airport is sustainable and that means maintaining and, if possible, increasing this proportion. But it is also about more than just those who work at the airport or its wider campus. Young people across the region need to be appropriately skilled and trained and the airport is keen to do what it can to help them regardless of their background.
While only part of the answer, our education and employment programmes will help to give the next generation the skills they need to do the job – be that on the airport, across the South East or anywhere in the world.
Inform - Learn Live
Gatwick’s online Learn Live broadcasts are designed to encourage local children to take Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects by demonstrating their relevance to a wide range of careers at the airport.
Over 50,000 students from over 100 primary and secondary schools have tuned in to the live online broadcasts since they started in 2017. The broadcasts allow local children to listen to and ask questions of airport specialists who regularly need to use STEM subjects as part of their day to day job. Broadcast have been made by the airport’s air traffic controllers, airfield specialists, biodiversity experts, fire service and engineering apprentices.
Inspire – Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths
Over the last three years, Gatwick has been the headline sponsor of Crawley STEMfest which gives 20,000 local young people the chance to learn about career paths linked to STEM subjects. This culminates with the Big Bang Fair South East, the largest regional event of its kind where over 13,000 young people come to learn about science through activities, shows and workshops.
In partnership with the Primary and Secondary Engineer Programmes, Gatwick has also just launched a three-year programme to get kids thinking more about engineering. Teachers from 15 local primary schools and five local secondary schools near to Gatwick will receive training on ways to bring engineering-related projects to life. Engineers and apprentices from Gatwick will also visit the schools, to help build interest and connections between local young people and engineers in the field.
Gatwick is also looking to encourage more women to consider careers in engineering and has been working with Millais all-girls school in Horsham. As part of this partnership, 77 pupils and mothers recently had an exclusive insight into many of the engineering functions at the airport.