Innovative RAF programme is launched for high flying students

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A further education college is teaming up with the Royal Air Force to offer youngsters a secure career path into the Armed Forces.

New College Stamford launched its new Air and Defence Career College this week, and this will work alongside the RAF and a range of top aerospace industry partners to offer its students an academic and technical education specific to a career in the military.

The new course, which begins in September, has just received official approval by the Careers College and aims to plug the skills gap in the RAF.

Janet Meenaghan, principal of New College Stamford, said: “The launch of the Air and Defence Career College is a very exciting move for New College Stamford, and further cements our strong ties with RAF Wittering.

“Our study programmes will offer a unique blend of academic education and technical training, infused with an additional focus on leadership, communication and team building.

“Graduates from these courses will leave the college with the right qualifications and the fitness levels, confidence, leadership and communications skills to succeed. Everything they need to ensure they are perfectly placed to enjoy good careers in the air force and the aerospace industry.

“We have already had more than 20 expressions of interest in these new courses, and we are confident of attracting even more when the course starts in September.”

The college will be running three pathways with two courses each – computer science, catering and public services – and each of the six courses has been carefully tailored to include employer-led study programmes and work experience placements which will offer students a valuable ‘hands-on’ insight into military life.

Studies will be split between vocational learning and military training, with students enjoying unprecedented access to local RAF bases, including RAF Wittering.

Thales (specialists in air traffic management), Raytheon (experts in state-of-the-art electronics, mission systems integration and other capabilities) and AAR Corp (an independent provider of aftermarket aviation services to commercial and government customers) are some of the big names backing the project.

Group captain Tony Keeling, station commander at RAF Wittering, said: “This is a great opportunity for the college and for RAF Wittering.

“The Air and Defence College started in 2016 and has achieved an excellent reputation in a very short period of time. It currently enjoys an incredible success rate, and the courses it offers are really good for anyone looking for a career in air and defence.

“RAF Wittering can offer a wide range of enrichment opportunities – yes we train pilots at the base, but we also have bomb disposal, transport and other specialists units. We have some 1,400 personnel on site, and at any one time 200 of them are somewhere else in the world in the field.

“This course will give students access to people doing a wide variety of roles.”

Stamford mayor Tony Story, who enjoyed a 22-year career in the RAF as a photographer, was at the launch of the course on Wednesday.

He said: “I was in the RAF myself, and know that they have always had the best, most modern and most comprehensive training.

“I loved my time in the force – the travel, the lifestyle and the feeling of being part of a close group of people. But there is far more to a life in the forces than that – service life prepares you for life in any career, and service personnel are always in demand once they leave the forces.”

The two-year courses are full-time and include a minimum of three hours per week of personal training to develop physical fitness and a week-long residential visit. The top performing students will then have the opportunity to experience a flight in an RAF aircraft.

New College Stamford is the third college to become an Air and Defence College and joins Lincoln and West Anglia in offering the courses.

For more information about the course, please contact 01780 484311.