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OAS boosts high-tech engineering provision in Oxfordshire

Oxfordshire Advanced Skills training centre opens new extension and expands apprenticeship offering to include automation and space technician apprenticeships.

The state-of-the-art extension to Oxfordshire Advanced Skills (OAS), at the UK Atomic Energy Authority's (UKAEA) Culham Campus has been completed and is now ready to receive its first cohort of learners.

The purpose-built facility was officially opened by UK space industry expert, Stuart Martin from Satellite Applications Catapult.

Representing an investment of £13m, supported from Government funding from the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) through UKAEA, the custom-built facility adds over 2,000 square metres to the original building providing space for learners in four additional key industrial sectors: Automation and Controls, Space, Renewable Energy and Nuclear.

OAS is already supporting the development of the next generation of highly qualified engineers, providing high-tech training, alongside traditional engineering skills. The expansion will allow OAS to accommodate a larger number of future engineers, allowing more apprentices to acquire the crucial skills necessary for the growth and success of advanced manufacturing in the UK.

Two new Level 4 apprenticeships which have been developed in conjunction with the Manufacturing Technology Centre, plus a wider range of upskilling and CPD courses, are just some of the curricular developments coming onstream. The Level 4 Automation and Controls apprenticeship launches in November 2023, with the Level 4 Space Technician apprenticeship commencing in February 2024. The development enables OAS to broaden the availability of training from Levels 2 to Level 4, with further plans to expand up to Level 6 in due course.

The new Level 4 Space apprenticeship programme, which has been approved by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE), is designed to help businesses to upskill and future-proof their existing workforce and new employees. Learners will develop the skills, capabilities and experience required to successfully employ and work with advanced manufacturing technologies that are critical to the future of the space sector.

Designed specifically to support the increased demand for automation technicians the Level 4 Automation and Controls apprenticeship programme consists of eight modules that cover all the engineering and management skills that apprentices will need to develop a career in automation and progress to higher level-technical and leadership roles.

Paige Rivers, Space Tech Apprentice, Enersys ABSL, said: “I was drawn to OAS by its impressive facilities and the range of equipment, but the extension takes my excitement to the next level! I’m really looking forward to being hands on and learning the fundamentals of engineering. I know that this will provide a great opportunity to jumpstart an exciting career in the space sector and I’ll be able to bring all my learning from OAS into my new workplace.”

David Grailey, Managing Director, MTC Training, said: “The extension of OAS is a huge opportunity to seed critically important industries of the future with the talent they need to succeed and contribute positively to the UK economy. With strong support from government, our new programmes will enable us to provide more people with the skills they need to make real business impact and have a fulfilling career in engineering, across Oxfordshire and beyond.”