By Paula Aldridge, Community Engagement Manager
Airports offer a world of opportunity for more than just passengers. They are also fantastic places to work. London Gatwick is passionate about showcasing the wide range of careers at the airport and providing inspiration using real life examples.
Around 24,000 people work at Gatwick in a wide variety of companies and diverse roles, and the airport is keen to provide motivation to the next generation. It is an exciting place to be and, as the airport continues to grow, it is critical to build a pipeline of talent.
An important part of this outreach is Gatwick’s education programme which aims to inform, inspire and invest in young people. It is all about bringing to life the diverse range of roles on offer and helping students develop the right skills to get their dream job.
Much of Gatwick’s work with young people focuses on inspiring students around the importance of “STEM” subjects – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – and how these skills are used in a real working environment such as an airport. The fact that Gatwick operates the most efficient runway in the world, with up to 950 aircraft movements a day, makes this an exciting place to learn!
By getting schoolchildren and students interested early on, Gatwick is investing in its future workforce and creating employment opportunities and routes into some of the UK’s most unique and inspiring jobs.
Gatwick’s Learn Live programme brings airport life directly to classrooms all across the UK in real time and for free. Including videos and live interaction sessions with Gatwick employees, students can take a unique look at what it is like to work at the UK’s second biggest airport.
Working with its airport partners – known as the “Gatwick Family”, past sessions range from talking to the air traffic control team live from the tower, a Q&A with an easyJet airline captain and a “look at what the Met Office – the UK’s national weather service – does at Gatwick.” Schoolchildren have even had a chance to explore Gatwick’s IT and baggage systems and ask questions to the airport’s team of ecologists and biodiversity specialists.
To date, Gatwick is the only UK airport to offer this type of programme to schools. In 2017, the airport broadcast Learn Live to over 50 schools and had 20,000 student and teacher views all across the UK – and plenty more are planned.
Engineering and construction skills are critical to many roles at airports, and Gatwick wants to be at the forefront of inspiring young people to join the team and be part of its continued growth and success. The airport is actively involved in many partnerships, and events in the local area are designed to encourage youngsters to get involved in these compelling subjects and spark a passion from a young age.
In the past few years, Gatwick has enthusiastically hosted regional FIRST® LEGO® League tournaments where students compete to build robots and has been a headline sponsor in the “Big Bang” Fair South East. Part of a wider, national STEM festival, which gives 20,000 local young people the chance to learn about STEM career paths, the “Big Bang” final event gives students a chance to experience careers at the airport through activities, shows and workshops.
This year is particularly exciting as Gatwick supports the UK Government’s national “Year of Engineering 2018” campaign, which celebrates engineering and helps to raise its status as an aspirational career path among young people, their parents and teachers.
Following the airport’s active role in promoting STEM subjects to young people, this spring, Gatwick launched a nationwide competition for schools. Students have been invited to submit their best energy saving ideas with the opportunity to win an award and an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of the airport.
The competition, which is run through Gatwick’s Learn Live broadcast portal, challenges students to develop an effective energy saving idea which could be implemented at the airport. Aiming to encourage interest in STEM subjects, Gatwick has teamed up with the British Science Association’s CREST Awards scheme. This is the only nationally recognised accreditation scheme for STEM project work and encourages students to learn by solving a problem or answering a question, rather than simply following instructions or being presented with information.
True to Gatwick’s own innovative way of working, students working on ideas for the competition can use the Learn Live sessions to ask questions directly from their classrooms to Gatwick’s engineering and technical employees, and receive immediate expert feedback as they develop their entries. Ideas can be anything from using a new low energy technology to how Gatwick could carry out a process in a more energy efficient way.
Gatwick produces resource packs for teachers that contain interesting and useful facts about careers at the airport. The idea is to introduce young students to the variety of diverse careers on offer, providing inspiration, key facts and information about each role, alongside the skills and qualifications required. There are also questions related to the roles for students to think about and discuss. From terminal operations to airfield engineering, security to retail, these packs complement Gatwick’s Learn Live broadcasts and support student discussion on the video topics.
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