Royal award for high-flying college

A high-flying college in North Wales has been honoured by the Queen for helping the £24 billion aerospace industry to take off in the UK.

Coleg Cambria was awarded the prestigious Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Further and Higher Education at a ceremony at St  James’s Palace in London.

Their Centre of Excellence for Aerospace Development has trained more than 5,000 learners since it was set up in 2002.

It was established by the former Deeside College which this year became part of Coleg Cambria with campuses in Connah’s Quay, Northop, Wrexham and Llysfasi.

The initiative has resulted in Airbus employees at the wing-making factory in Broughton gaining more than 7,000 nationally recognised qualifications.

The centre’s staff have also been instrumental in setting up Airbus Academies in the UK, France, Germany and Spain.

They also work closely with other locally-based aerospace firms like Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group, Raytheon, Magellan and Apple Aviation.

As a result, the Centre of Excellence has won a raft of awards over the years, culminating in this latest prize from the Queen which is designed to  promote and recognise “world class excellence” in UK universities and colleges.

Being awarded the prize was a source of great pride to Coleg Cambria Chair John Clutton and the Principal and Chief Executive, David Jones, who attended the ceremony.

Mr Clutton said: “It is excellent recognition of the superb work that’s been carried out between Airbus and Coleg Cambria over many years.

“What this partnership does for the local area is quite phenomenal and the recent $20 billion order for for 50 more Airbus A380s is great news.

“The fact that wing production is centred in North East Wales is a great boost in  terms of securing employment, securing the future of young people in Flintshire, Wrexham and Denbighshire.

“Our focus at Coleg Cambria is to provide for the region as many opportunities as it can for the workforce, for young people and for the whole of the community.”

It was a sentiment echoed by Mr Jones who added: “This is a significant achievement for Coleg Cambria and we are delighted to receive this commendation.

“The Queen’s Awards have a very intensive and demanding assessment process, and most are won by the UK’s leading Universities.

“It proves that the staff and students at Coleg Cambria can match the very best in UK and global education.  I thank them all for their dedication and professionalism, together with all our colleagues at Airbus and across the wider aerospace sector that we are so proud to support.”

According to Airbus, which employs 6,000 people in Broughton, the college had played an important role in their success.

Mick Fleming,  Head of HR-Employment, Training and Competence Management at Airbus, said: “Our collaboration with Coleg Cambria is an exemplar of best practice that has helped underpin the phenomenal commercial success of our operation at Broughton.

“The aerospace facilities at the college are outstanding and a unique feature of this project has seen college staff being based within Airbus. This has played a hugely important role in the positive outcomes achieved by our apprentices and existing employees.

“The prize won by Coleg Cambria is richly deserved because of their immense contribution to Airbus and the wider aerospace sector.”

Among the first to congratulate the college was Lord Barry Jones, the former MP for Alyn and Deeside.

According to Lord Jones, the college had ensured the aerospace industry had a “world class workforce” and provided job security for thousands of employees.

He added: “The impact of a skilled workforce at Airbus has also been extremely beneficial to the local economy and especially the positive impact on local retail businesses.”

The “sector-leading” college’s application was supported by Welsh Secretary David Jones.

He said: “The College’s contribution to upskilling the Airbus workforce has made a significant contribution to addressing the Welsh Government’s targets for skills and training in Wales.

“This project has created a very positive impact at national, regional and local levels and as such is well deserving of a national award that recognises the achievements of Airbus learners, staff and the college as a whole.”

Also impressed was Ken Skates, the Welsh Government’s Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, who said: “This award is richly deserved. Coleg Cambria Deeside has shown a great commitment to Airbus and the wider aerospace sector for very many years.

“Their approach to apprenticeships sets a benchmark for others to follow and their broader support for developments in the aerospace sector should  be applauded.

“This award is just recognition of their vision and engagement and  I would like to congratulate all who are involved.”

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