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Boost for Aspiring Young Aviators as Taxpayers Provide Funding for Outreach Programmes

The Reach for the Sky Challenge Fund will help to get young people from all backgrounds into aviation

  • government announces winners of its Reach for the Sky Challenge Fund, which aims to educate young people from all backgrounds about the opportunities on offer in aviation

  • eleven winning projects include a special career mentoring and coaching programme for aspiring students and a series of flying and engineering taster days and workshops

  • forms part of Generation Aviation, a joint-government industry campaign to build the aviation workforce of the future

The government is today (1 February 2023) announcing the winners of its Reach for the Sky Challenge Fund, which will help to get young people from all backgrounds into aviation.

Eleven non-profit organisations have been selected, with £700,000 going to fund outreach programmes and events to show the next generation what opportunities the aviation sector can offer.

For those who have previously struggled to get a foothold in this exciting industry, the aim of the fund is to break down barriers – targeting those schemes which provide an entry point for people who are from underprivileged backgrounds or under-represented groups.

It forms part of the new Generation Aviation campaign which recognises that, for the sector to successfully adapt to the challenges of tomorrow, it needs a robust, open, and diverse workforce – with a reliable pool of talent from the full range of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields and other critical roles.

The Transport Secretary will announce the winners today at the very first Aviation Council – one of the first commitments in the government’s 10-year strategy for the sector, Flightpath to the Future.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper 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 healthy collaboration with industry, supporting it in every way we can, so it can continue to push boundaries.

Among the 11 winning organisations are:

Resilient Pilot – a non-profit organisation that will receive £100,000 to develop a special mentoring and coaching programme for young students aged 11 to 18, inspiring the next generation to explore exciting and rewarding careers in the UK’s aviation sector.

The Air League – a charity which will receive £50,000 to support their Soaring to Success programme, looking to improve social mobility and helping support 35,000 spaces on their programme and up to 1,100 flying and engineering taster days and workshops targeted at young people from lower socio-economic groups.

Aerobility – a charity which will also receive over £100,000 to fund their Equal Skies Charter, aimed at increasing accessibility in the sector. They will use the funding to work with partners across the industry to raise the level of understanding of what disability is and what accessibility means to their organisation.

Before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the air transport and aerospace sectors contributed at least £22 billion to gross domestic product (GDP) each year and provided at least 230,000 jobs across all regions of the country directly. However, there are several challenges ahead, from decarbonisation to changing travelling patterns following the pandemic.

Tackling these challenges is the aim of Generation Aviation, which forms part of the government’s 22-point plan to support aviation as it recovers from the pandemic. Also included in the campaign is the government’s aviation skills recruitment platform (ASRP) – which signposts careers and opportunities to people looking to enter or move up in the industry – among other schemes.

Organisations meeting the criteria for the Reach for the Sky Challenge Fund were able to apply for a share of £700,000, with funding decisions agreed by a joint panel of the Department for Transport and the Civil Aviation Authority – which manages the fund on DfT’s behalf.

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