Aspiring young aviators were given a boost yesterday as the government announced the winners of its Reach for the Sky Challenge Fund. The fund was created to help young people from all backgrounds get into aviation with the eleven winners now set to get to work on creating the next generation of aviators.
An inclusive funding approach
In total there will be £700,000 spent on eleven different outreach programmes and events with the government keen to ensure that barriers are broken down in relation to young people from underprivileged backgrounds making it into the sector.
All of the winners are non-profit organisations, meaning they are all purely incentivised on providing better outcomes for budding aviators, particularly those from under-represented backgrounds.
The funding is part of the new Generation Aviation campaign, which has set out to create a more open and diverse workforce. The campaign wants to build a new-look aviation sector with roles in science, technology, engineering and mathematics to ensure that the United Kingdom becomes a leader in the industry.
Innovation propels aviation
Speaking at the first Aviation Council – where the winners were announced – Transport Secretary Mark Harper spoke about how the Sky Challenge Fund is taking the country into the future of aviation. He said:
“Innovation propels aviation and for it to face up to tomorrow’s challenges, it needs an open and diverse workforce that can bring fresh ideas and ways of working.”
Our Reach for the Sky Challenge Fund recipients will be key to that, inspiring the next generation into the sector and helping to build an aviation workforce fit for the future.
I was pleased to chair the first-ever Aviation Council today and continue our health collaboration with industry, supporting it in every way we can, so it can continue to push boundaries.Mark Harper, Secretary of State for Transport
The successful recipients
The funding has been split across a wide range of different outreach programmes from boot camps to mentoring initiatives.
The full list of winners is as follows:
- Nuncats (£129,740) – Nuncats will provide young aviators with an education and training centre with a focus specifically on electric aircraft engineering.
- Aerobility (£10,183) – Aerobility aims to increase accessibility within the aviation industry. With this funding, they will work to raise the level of understanding of what disability is and how organisations can support disabled staff.
- Resilient Pilot (£100,000) – A mentoring, coaching and competency-focused career pathway programme for 11-18 year olds.
- British Gliding Association (£85,584) – This funding will go to their Gliding Project which inspires young people to explore careers in aviation via gliding demonstrations.
- Stemettes (£74,525) – Engaging with hundreds of primary-aged young women and non-binary people about the possibility of aviation-related STEM careers.
- Royal Aeronautical Society (£55,000) – Providing opportunities for 6-19-year-olds with Special Educations Needs and Disabilities to design and build mobile flight simulators.
- The Air League (£50,000) – Support for their Soaring to Success Programme which bridges the gap between education and industry. This funding will support around 35,000 spaces on the programmes as well as in-person flying and engineering taster days and employability workshops targeted at under-represented groups.
- Flight Crowd (£40,000) – A one-week boot camp designed to showcase sustainable aviation to 14-18-year-olds. Tasks within the boot camp include electric aircraft design and computer modelling. The boot camps will take place across three different regions in the UK to target underprivileged individuals.
- Air Cadets 172 squadron (£29,474) – Restoring Scottish Aviation Bulldog aircraft so they can be used as an interactive experience for the public at air shows and local events.
- WW1 Aviation Heritage (£24,000) – Bringing flight simulators from aircraft used in World War One into primary schools across the country. The funding will allow the programme to expand from 12 to 48 schools.
- YES – Youth and Education Support (£8,830) – Students will be given the opportunity to rebuild a glider to flying status, starting off with just the airframe of a Primary Glider.
While many aviation schemes will be disappointed to miss out on the funding, it’s hard to argue with any of the eleven winners. Each one has a clear focus on engaging with a diverse demographic and it will be exciting to see the impact of each one in the coming years. It is positive to see the Government taking a step to address previous disadvantages faced by ethnic and gender minorities in the field of STEM. The future of aviation seems bright as more inclusive policies bring sharper minds to conversations on the future of innovation.