The rewards of pursuing a career in aerospace

By Future TalentEd

RAF chief of the air staff Sir Mike Wigston shares his insights on what a career in aerospace can offer young people.

What is the best thing about working in the field of engineering?

For me, it’s the magic of bringing inanimate materials together and building something amazing, whether that’s a washing machine pump or a rocket to Mars. That is the essence of my fascination with engineering and design.

What skills are sought after in aerospace — and how are needs changing?

Increasingly, my engineering is being done by digital technicians, using coding and data science. I need people who know how to
write and adapt code. Over the next 10-20 years, my workforce balance is undoubtedly going to change, in terms of the proportion of people with digital information skills versus mechanical skills.

The focus on STEM is absolutely right, but the art and design side of what we do is important as well. Aircraft are designed by designers — to be beautiful — as well as by engineers.

What skills and qualities do you need to thrive within the RAF?

We need people who want to work in a high-performing team, who are ready for the obligation of wearing a uniform and are ready to serve — and understand that this means potentially putting yourself in dangerous situations. We need people who are resourceful and resilient.

Why is it worth joining the Air Cadets or similar youth organisations?

The Air Cadets gives young people fantastic life skills, so that they go into the world of work as better citizens. They gain skills and opportunities way beyond what you get in the classroom. It’s an important part of our contribution to society and to social mobility — giving young people a structure around their free time.

"The Air Cadets gives young people fantastic life skills so that they go into the world of work as better citizens"

Read the full article about careers in the RAF


This piece was first featured in our Spring 2021 issue of Future TalentEd magazine for careers leaders, parents and students.

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