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Flybe Training Academy is poised for take-off

17th September 2009 Print
Flybe, Europe’s largest regional airline, has this month welcomed Skills Minister Kevin Brennan MP to its Exeter headquarters for the announcement that it has become the first UK company to successfully bid for support to the tune of £4.3-million through the Learning and Skills Council’s (LSC) new Capital Specialisation Fund (CSF) process.

The much-awaited announcement has in turn unlocked the South West RDA’s (Regional Development Agency) contribution of £2.8-million announced in June meaning that construction of the £24-million Flybe Training Academy is poised for immediate take-off!

In addition to providing world-class training for its own staff, the new Academy will be an international training facility for the airline industry as a whole and provide training for companies involved in the travel-related spectrum.

In announcing the news, Minister Brennan said: “It is great news that Flybe has received funding to provide high-quality training to people who are keen to broaden their skills and improve their employability.

“Britain needs vital investment to improve the skills of the workforce. That’s why we continue to help people access the training they need to get into and get on at work, especially in tougher times, and make sure they are best placed to win those jobs of the future.”

The LSC’s new CSF was launched last November with criteria based on innovation, specialisation and relevance of training to trainees and employer success and bidding for such financial support is a strictly competitive process. The RDA contribution was announced in June as part of its 2009-2011 Capital Projects’ commitment with payment dependent on LSC support.

Months prior to becoming the first UK airline out of 150 leading UK companies to sign the Government’s Skills Pledge in June 2007, Flybe had announced the intention to replace its outdated training facilities with a state of the art Training Academy to incorporate four flight simulators and an independently owned and operated 160-room hotel.

Jim French, Flybe’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, commented: “We are naturally delighted to have now received final confirmation of the funding available to help with this major investment. Now this is secured, we can finally go ahead with fulfilling our commitment to the region by building our world-class training facility here in Exeter.”

The Academy, designed to BREEAM* Excellent specifications, will be a showcase for future developments elsewhere and is scheduled to open in March 2010. It will support delivery of appropriate vocational qualifications for Flybe staff and assist in growing its reputation as a world-class training centre by developing the third party training already offered through its successful Aviation Services’ division. It will also enable the airline to take a lead in moving the Government’s Skills Agenda forward by delivering training and skills’ development to local companies in line with the RDA and the LSC agendas. This will include ‘over-training’ for companies involved in the full spectrum of the sector such as delivering the Skills Shop facility for Exeter International Airport.

John Chudley, Area Director for the LSC South West said: “The LSC is determined to continue to provide focused investment for developing specialist facilities that are critical for meeting employers’ skills needs, whilst at the same time supporting the government’s New Industry, New Jobs agenda.

“Flybe has pioneered the support of this agenda since making the Skills Pledge in 2007 and the airline’s plans for its new Training Academy clearly fulfil all the criteria demanded for a successful application.

“To have such a Training Academy located at Exeter Airport will not only allow Flybe to further develop its commitment to Skills and the local economy, but will also create a facility for the industry as a whole to access.”

Suzanne Bond, Executive Director of People and Skills at the South West RDA said: “We are delighted to be working with Flybe, a company of strategic importance for the South West. This is an excellent example of the public sector working with the private sector to develop a skills project that will not only support a major regional business but also the local community.”

Added Mr French: “The confidence shown by the LSC and RDA in our ability to offer quality world class training is validation of Flybe’s commitment to place training at the heart of its development. In partnership with the University of Exeter and Exeter College, this already includes the only industry-wide recognised Cabin Crew NVQ (National Vocation Qualification), Engineering Apprenticeships, Call Centre NVQ and Foundation Degree.

“Not only will the additional jobs created by the Academy project provide an especially welcome boost for the regional economy but also, importantly, cements our commitment to bridging the skills’ gap. It’s crucial that the employers of today work more closely with the education system to match paper qualifications to the real world of work.

“This is why, with today’s good news, we are so delighted to be able to move one giant step forward to completing this commitment with the creation of our new world-class Training Academy.”

* BREEAM - the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method - is the world's most widely used environmental assessment method for buildings. BREEAM assesses buildings against a set criteria and provides an overall score which will fall within a band providing either a; PASS, GOOD, VERY GOOD or EXCELLENT rating. See for more details.