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Space engineering apprenticeship
Young people are being encouraged to seize an opportunity which could be described as being out of this world - an apprenticeship in space engineering.
The first Higher Apprenticeship in the sector has been developed by Loughborough College, in association with the National Space Academy and the University of Leicester, and its launch has been announced by Skills Minister Matthew Hancock.
The apprenticeships are set to begin in September this year, a spokeswoman for Loughborough College said.
The pioneering programme is set to lead the way in training across the country for a sector due to grow fourfold and be worth £40 billion in less than two decades, according to the College.
The Higher Apprenticeship will meet the demands of an industry which already employs around 30,000 and contributes over £9 billion to the nation's economy, with work-based, degree-level training.
The space sector has a huge impact on everyday life, showing significant growth despite the economic downturn.
The commercial sector is driven by increasing demand from consumers for satellite TV and radio, mobile phone services, GPS navigation, as well as from government for emergency services and security, for air traffic management or to monitor climate change, the College said.
This is predicted to lead to continued high growth - projected at 5% per annum in real terms to 2030, it added.
Speaking at the launch event at the National Space Centre in Leicester, Mr Hancock said: "Space engineering apprenticeships are a great launch pad for a stratospheric career.
"Since becoming Skills Minister I have said that I want the new norm to be for young people to choose to go to university or become an apprentice.
"With the introduction of exciting and new apprenticeships like this, it is becoming a reality.
"Ahead of National Apprenticeship Week, I would like to encourage young people to think about a career in this stimulating and fast moving sector.
"I'm sure there will be opportunities for apprentices working in this sector to be involved in some innovative and exciting projects."
Dr Martin Killeen, head of technology at Loughborough College, said: "Significant issues have been identified regarding graduates emerging from university without the skills mix required for space engineering.
"We have worked extensively with the space industry to develop our Higher Apprenticeship programme to ensure it combines both the work-based skills and the knowledge which meet employers' needs.
"This Higher Apprenticeship addresses the lack of high-level entrants into the space engineering industry, with its ageing staff demographic.
"Young people who might traditionally not have had the opportunity to access this sector will now be offered the chance to work in this rapidly-growing industry."
Anu Ojha, director of the UK's National Space Academy programme, said: "The need for thousands of new entrants to the sector has been clearly expressed by UK space companies that are seeing increasing demand from global customers."