The move highlights the airport’s ongoing commitment to providing opportunities for women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) roles.
The four new apprentices, aged 16 to 18, all come from local schools and colleges within the region, with Harry Dowling-Woods from Crawley College, Zoe Potts from Reigate College, Finlay Toner from Northbrook MET in Worthing and Abi Davies, a former student of Millais School in Horsham, where Gatwick has been running a Women into STEM programme since 2018 to encourage more girls to take up careers in engineering.
New apprentice, Abi Davies, said: “Only 12% of UK engineers are female. I want to be a part of changing this and show girls that there are companies paving the way for female engineers. I want to help break the gender stereotypes and show young girls like me that they can be engineers and work in STEM roles.”
The new apprentices will start the four-year Mechatronics programme in September, with their first year taking place exclusively at East Surrey College. They will study practical and theory-based subjects, working towards a BTEC level two, before combining their studies with practical days at the airport in their second year.
Gatwick currently has 16 apprentices across four cohorts, and the airport’s successful apprenticeship programme has recently been recognised with second place in the Top 100 Apprenticeship Employers in the Rate My Apprenticeship Awards. In addition, Gatwick also placed second in the South East as best apprenticeship employers.
The five apprentices ‘graduating’ from Gatwick’s programme this year – Liberty Frankland, Jack Hobbs, Max Brown, Glenn Minshall and James Tandy – have all been offered permanent roles at the airport. Their new positions commenced on 6 September, working across areas including baggage, airfield, heating, ventilation and air conditioning, and specialist systems.
Additionally, Gatwick is continuing its work across two school programmes – Primary Engineering and Engineering Tomorrow – to promote STEM subjects and the career opportunities provided by the airport. Through Primary Engineering, Gatwick engages 15 primary schools and five secondary schools, while Engineering Tomorrow sees projects such as bridge construction, water treatment and aerodynamics delivered to around 500 14-16-year-olds across the region every year.
Tony Yates, Head of Engineering at Gatwick Airport, added: “Diversity within engineering and STEM subjects is vital for driving innovation and continuous improvement. It’s important that young children – especially girls - are made aware of the opportunities, while at the same time dispelling stereotypes, which is what both of these programmes are designed to do.
“Recent polling* shows that nearly 60% of local people consider Gatwick to have a positive impact on developing skills in young people, so it shows that our programmes are continuing to make a good impression and support our future generations.”
Gatwick has started a public consultation on plans to bring its existing Northern Runway into routine use alongside its Main Runway. Full consultation materials are available on the www.gatwickairport.com/futureplans web pages along with a virtual exhibition and an option to book a telephone surgery with project experts or to request a virtual briefing for local stakeholder groups.
Applications for Gatwick’s 2022 Engineering Apprenticeship Programme will be advertised in the autumn.