A new apprenticeship scheme on the Isle of Wight will help talented young people train to become aerospace engineers. 

Subregional aircraft manufacturer Britten-Norman has introduced the new apprenticeship scheme in partnership with the Isle of Wight College, and the newest recruits have already started their course.

The new apprentices are benefiting from a unique collaboration with the Centre of Excellence for Composites, Advanced Manufacturing and Marine (CECAMM).

The course coincides with Britten-Norman opening its new production line at its Bembridge site last month.

It means the apprentices will be directly involved in the manufacture of new aircraft, the production of which has now returned to the UK for the first time since 1968.

The programme will see a cohort of Engineering Fitter Level 3 Apprentices embarking on a three-year apprenticeship program.

In addition to their time at Britten-Norman, weekly sessions at CECAMM are undertaken to enhance their practical abilities and immerse them in real-world aerospace engineering challenges.

Britten-Norman, known for its iconic Islander aircraft, has long offered apprenticeship schemes and this collaboration with CECAMM is the most recent example of engineering training offered to young people from the area.

Pete Dowers, new build manager at Britten-Norman said: “Having served 45 years with Britten-Norman and currently working on my 500th aircraft, I believe it’s important to pass my knowledge to the next generation and help them develop their own skills.

"In fact, I was fortunate to have been an apprentice at Britten-Norman myself, starting back in September, 1978.

"My apprenticeship shaped my career where I now manage our new aircraft builds on the production line at our Bembridge site.

"The apprentices had already been through their first year of training before they joined us and will spend three months in each of the ten different areas of the business, getting hands-on with everything from machinery and sheet metal through to flight controls and the paint shop.

"By the end of their three years, each apprentice will have gained a good understanding of the different areas of aircraft engineering to decide which they are most interested in pursuing as a career.

"As the sole commercial aircraft manufacturer in the UK, it’s important to have this apprenticeship scheme to make sure we have people with the right skills working in the business and can continue to build new aircraft on the Isle of Wight for many years to come.”

Isaac Turner, curriculum manager of digital and innovation, said: “We are looking forward to supporting the upcoming generation of engineering fitters through an apprenticeship scheme being run here at CECAMM.

"We are excited to collaborate with Britten Norman to fulfil the needs of their current and future apprentices.”

Plans are already underway to expand the programme.