AVIATION engineering students will have a better start to 2016 thanks to a local college. ATC Lasham, based in Southend, went in to liquidation in October, with hundreds of jobs lost and the uncertainty for many apprentices.

Prospects College of Advanced Technology, in Basildon, pledged its support to help and recently announced the apprentices have been offered roles with Marshall Aerospace and Thomas Cook.

The decision to snap up the apprentices echoes the industries call for qualified engineers to address the growing skills shortage which remains in the sector. It is estimated 27,000 new aircraft are needed in service by 2031, with aviation businesses already reporting skills gaps and unprecedented demand for 7,000 new engineers over the next five years.

The head of group maintenance organisation at Thomas Cook, Jaakko Schildt, said: “We have a real commitment to reinforcing the future workforce of the company with our apprenticeship scheme, so when we heard about the closure of ATC Lasham, it seemed like a very good opportunity to act quickly not only for the GMO and group airlines, but also the individuals who were likely to be jobless very soon.”

Rob Butler, manager of AeroAcademy at Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group added: “Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group has been training apprentices for 93 years without a break in delivery.

“We value the training delivered to our apprentices by our team at AeroAcademy in that it secures the skills we need for our current and future business needs.

“On hearing of the plight of the former ATC Lasham apprentices we immediately put together an action plan to provide assistance to these apprentices that would enable them to complete their training and to gain the skills needed for their future careers. We are now supporting three apprentices that were in danger of losing their training and apprenticeship qualification.”

PROCAT had been running its Aviation Academy, opened in 2010, using space provided by ATC, but without exclusivity to train apprentices in a real working environment, including access to the service hangar and fully equipped classrooms with the latest technology including Aerosim – a simulator-based training tool and virtual aeroplane.

Students have been relocated to PROCAT’s Basildon campus to continue their studies.

College principal Neil Bates, said: “The aviation apprentices finding new employment is a fantastic outcome, and really underlines the capacity of the college to support apprentices who are made redundant. We pride ourselves on being a college you do not just come to for a qualification, you start your career.

“I wish the apprentices good luck in their new roles as they look to complete their apprenticeships.”