Not going to university?

More and more young people are finishing their A levels and BTEC level 3s looking for an alternative to university. University isn’t the only road to professional development, training and further qualifications to set you on a career path.

Well-structured apprenticeship schemes are increasingly popular and increasingly considered as a really positive alternative for school and college leavers who already have an idea of what they want to do.

I’ve been researching industry standards to find out what it takes to establish a robust apprenticeship scheme that provides recognised and respected qualifications.  It has confirmed to me just how well-structured and highly regarded apprenticeships are considered by today’s businesses.

Increasingly, I have also been hearing the media talking about the real shortage of engineers in the UK. So, it has made sense for NATS to offer an advanced engineering apprenticeship scheme to reflect these changes in the marketplace.  Air traffic management is at a technological turning point and there are some really exciting opportunities for a fantastic career.


Our new NATS Engineering Apprenticeship programme launched last week and is aimed at people aged 18 to 24, with a minimum of 3 A levels (A* to C) or a BTEC level 3 (or equivalent) to help us develop talented individuals who will become the air traffic engineering professionals of the future.

There are real jobs available at the end of the scheme as well as real qualifications and a salary along the way.

The programme itself involves placements, providing on-the-job training in interesting areas such as modelling airspace, change delivery (taking a project and transitioning it into operation) and outstation work (where apprentices may work with radars) as well as off-the-job training supported by CEMAST, based at Fareham College, in Hampshire. The programme leads to a NVQ level 3 – an extended diploma in Electrical and Electronic Engineering (QCF) and onwards towards their IET professional registration. A typical apprenticeship will gain the following qualifications:

  • Year 1: NVQ Level 3 & HNC Engineering Systems/Electrical year 1
  • Year 2: HNC – Engineering Systems Mechanical / Electrical year 2
  • Year 3: Air Traffic Safety Electronics personnel (Level 4)

Our first apprenticeship will begin in the summer, after the current academic year has finished – so if you think this might be for you, why not have a go?

Applications will be received until the end of March

More details are available on the engineering apprenticeship page of our corporate websitewhere you will also locate the “apply here” button.


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Joe Fuller

Don’t forget the hundreds of NATS Apprentice Technicians/Engineer Cadets who were part of the original scheme that started in 1967 and ran for nearly 30 years. There are a lot of us around, all who’ve had fantastic careers both in NATS and in the engineering world outside, where our training was recognised for the quality of engineers it produced. I and my fellow ATs/ECs have always been proud to say that we were amongst them!



Darryn Lewis

What a great opportunity to work with the UK biggest company who control the UK’s air space. Gaining experience with NATS will help the future in air space operations and systems engineers. I hope you fill your quoter.



Darryn Lewis

This is fantastic, basically one step down from being a rocket scientist! They can’t teach this stuff at uni and hopefully if their first apprenticeship placement is success they can develop their own pool of skilled engineers and stem any skills gaps plus give young individuals the ability to learn and work with a fantastic organisation which will only benefit there future:)



Daniel Turner

I know this probably is not the correct thread, but I am 18, if I apply to become an ATCO, do I still stand the same chance of success as somebody with a degree?




Its really great opportunity!!




It’s really great opportunity!!

Yes you will have the same chance as someone with a degree, providing you meet our minimum requirements, including having 5 GCSE’S at Grade C or above including English and Mathematics and be 18+ at the time of submitting your application. There are also aptitude and health requirements, which must be met in order to be successful in your application. Good luck.


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