Back in 2021, NATS began its partnership with Fantasy Wings as part of a wider strategy to reach and attract a more diverse pool of talent. Established by Jackson Smith in 2019, Fantasy Wings gives Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic young people a platform to enter and excel in the aviation industry through expert-led workshops, conferences, mentoring and live flight training. As part of our commitment to the partnership and the Fantasy Wings cause, we recently hosted a dedicated day at our Swanwick centre, offering up to 20 young people from the programme the opportunity to learn more about NATS and the wonderful world of aviation.

The day was split into two halves with the first part spent looking at the various roles within NATS and discussing ways to strengthen skills for job applications. This included looking at how to identify and present relevant key skills for CVs and how to make the most of their experience when presenting themselves to prospective employers. In the second half we had some fun as the groups had the opportunity to ‘play’ air traffic controllers using our in-house training simulator facility. The exposure to this environment provided some great hands-on experience and allowed the group to exercise the components to test whether it could be a future job they are interested in – we are extremely lucky at NATS as we have a broad range of job roles, so there really is something for everyone!

In line with the 2040 strategy of attracting the best new talent and working in a safe and diverse environment that encourages innovation, we will be demonstrating our appreciation for diversity much more in the future with similar events. I was personally really excited at the prospect of working with Fantasy Wings and feel very much aligned with their mission to change the status quo. We CAN broaden horizons and prove that the sky is the limit!

Apart from the opportunity it can afford the attendees and their delight when visiting and interacting with the air traffic management tools, it is hugely important that we hold events that encourage a diverse workforce. When we are inclusive of different backgrounds, cultures, and ideas we are led to improved company culture with increased innovation and creativity. A Harvard Business Review found that diverse companies had a 19% higher innovation revenue, so the benefits are evident, not only from a financial perspective but also breaking up workplace homogeneity creates an engaged place to work.

On a personal level, I am a firm believer that more diverse thought leadership will create better opportunities for current and prospective employees. I am really keen to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to influence and contribute at every level of the workplace – that sense of belonging ensures that we all feel safe and can bring our unique full selves to work.

We are looking now at how we can offer further opportunities through our partnership with Fantasy Wings and beyond to ensure that we continue to invite diverse prospective employees to learn more about the business. I hope we can look to deliver more days like these as it is always a pleasure to host such an intelligent and enthusiastic group of people and to know you are making a positive impact in some way.


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