The UK Department for Transport has joined Boeing, British Airways, and the William Gibbs Trust to fund a programme that aims to inspire, enable, and support state school students into aviation, aerospace, and space.

The Air League, the charity that changes lives through aviation, aerospace, and space, has announced a major funding grant by the Department for Transport, with additional support by key industry partners for its flagship career enrichment programme.

As part of the Department for Transport’s new Reach for the Sky Challenge Fund, launched on February 1, the Air League’s Soaring to Success Programme will receive a £50,000 grant. The programme is designed for students in state-funded education and compliments existing career provisions by providing accessible, in-depth information and knowledge that showcases the vast range of incredible roles and opportunities available within aviation and aerospace.

Delivered across the academic year with support from industry, the programme comprises of three stages that provide an overview and insight into the career pathways available. The government grant will help to support up to 35,000 spaces on the programme throughout 2023. This will include 1,100 in-person flying and engineering tasting days, as well as employability workshops for pupils from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

The Department joins several other funding partners, including Boeing, which have donated £34,000 to cover two regional projects in the West Midlands and South Yorkshire. British Airways has donated funds, that will cover a pilot project in the Greater London area around London City Airport, and the William Gibbs Trust has also committed to supporting the scheme throughout the year in the East of England region.

To mark the announcement Ian Morrison, CEO of the Air League, commented:  “By financially backing the scheme the Government is not just providing vital funding for thousands of young people. They are also recognising the importance of Air League’s mission to tear down the institutional barriers within our industry, and to encourage more young people – especially those from low socio-economic backgrounds – down the paths of aerospace, aviation, and space.”

“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,” said Transport Secretary Mark Harper. “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.”

Maria Laine, President UK & Ireland and Nordic regions at Boeing, added:  “Boeing is proud to have supported a wide range of Air League initiatives over the last ten years. Providing entry level aviation opportunities to young people from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, via the excellent Soaring to Success programme, can open up career paths and unexpected opportunities which we are delighted to encourage.”

Carrie Harris, Director of Sustainability at British Airways, said:  “We believe that the aviation industry should be a career path open to everybody, so we are proud to support a charity that strives to inspire the next generation of aviation professionals from all backgrounds. We have supported the Air League for more than ten years and continue to do so through our BA Better World Community Fund, so we are thrilled to hear that it will have even more backing in 2023.”