7th Aug 2012
Enterprise Minister over the moon about aerospace skills initiative
Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster has welcomed the creation of an additional 500 MSc places in aero-engineering at UK universities.
The places, which will be jointly funded by business and government, are in response to industry feedback that the current level of provision of graduate courses at UK universities is not sufficient to meet the future skills needs, competiveness and long-term opportunities for growth of the sector.
The Minister said: "The availability of highly skilled graduates with the necessary engineering expertise is a key issue for the Northern Ireland aerospace industry.
"For this reason, Invest Northern Ireland is working with the Department for Employment & Learning, the Northern Ireland Advanced Composites & Engineering Centre (NIACE), Queen's University, the University of Ulster and Bombardier Aerospace to establish arrangements for the delivery of up to 20 MScs every year over the three year period of the initial bursary and to secure Northern Ireland's participation in this exciting new national programme.
"Jobs in the aerospace industry are highly skilled and highly paid and add significant benefit to the Northern Ireland economy. An increased knowledge base will generate further opportunities for foreign direct investment as well as growth and innovation within our local sector."
The Department of Employment and Learning will provide funding for 20 bursaries for students wishing to study in Northern Ireland. Queen's University, Belfast, which has a track record of research excellence in aeronautical engineering, is seeking accreditation from the Royal Aeronautical Society to introduce a new aerospace MSc from October 2013.
The University of Ulster also views plans to develop a unique aerospace MSc programme capitalising on their advanced materials/composites research experience.
Welcoming the announcement, Queen's University Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Peter Gregson said: "The aerospace industry is worth £1 billion per annum to the Northern Ireland economy and is expected to grow to £2 billion within the next 10 years.
"Northern Ireland will require an additional 7,500 engineers at all levels to support this growth and Queen's University is committed to playing its part in making this a reality."
Dr Alistair McIlhagger, senior lecturer at the Engineering Research Institute at the University of Ulster, added: "The University of Ulster through the Faculty of Computing and Engineering has a long history of research collaboration with the aerospace industry and through this has developed educational materials at a range of academic levels."