PETA x Hamble Aerostructures Academy

Case study summary: Discover how Hamble Aerostructures and PETA have teamed up to launch an in-house academy, training a new generation of engineering apprentices and addressing skills shortages from an ageing workforce. Read more here about the programme's success and future prospects.


Last autumn, we launched our academy partnership with Hamble Aerostructures, a leading Tier 1 aerostructures manufacturer and a PETA member since 2021.

In response to a growing skills shortage due to the ageing workforce, Hamble Aerostructures has taken a proactive approach to future-proof the business. In collaboration with PETA, Hamble has created an in-house academy dedicated to training a new generation of engineering apprentices. This initiative not only addresses the immediate skills gaps, but also lays the foundation for long-term growth and stability within the company.

We visited Hamble Aerostructures and spoke to some of the key players who made the Academy happen.

Hamble’s Background and Strategic Vision

Hamble Aerostructures, established in 1936, has a rich history of manufacturing complex aerostructures for leading aerospace companies like Airbus and BAE Systems. With approximately 700 employees, the Hamble site is an integral part of the Aernnova group, which encompasses around 5,500 employees globally. Managing director Paolo Mancilla explains that the Academy initiative was born out of a need to address the inevitable loss of skilled workers due to retirement.

Paolo said: "We reviewed the age profile of our skilled workforce and realised that many are nearing retirement. To avoid losing these critical skills, we had to invest in developing our workforce for the future. Our last structured apprenticeship programme was in 1992, and relaunching it now is crucial to our future success."

Action taken:

Training and Development

The Academy was launched offering Level 2 apprenticeships, with apprentices gaining qualifications in advanced engineering and developing various technical skills including technical drawing, filing, drilling, fabrication, welding and riveting.

Technical training lead, Ian Winstanley, highlights the endless opportunities that the Academy can offer. “We ultimately want the apprentices to become skilled operators, manufacturing aircraft components and assemblies, but we also recognise that their career path might not necessarily stop there. If they are willing to develop themselves further within the organisation, they could end up in quality or engineering for example. The aspiration is for them to learn skills that they will need in the aerospace industry but also learn skills that could be beneficial if they decide to branch out to other areas.”

The entry-level apprenticeship has allowed individuals with no prior engineering experience to enrol onto the Academy and become trained engineers. Eloise, Kathleen and Elliott joined the Academy without any previous experience but have both shown growth in their confidence as well as in their technical skills since starting the programme.

Eloise said: “It’s been great so far, I’m really enjoying it. Every day is something different and I’m constantly learning new skills. It’s all been completely new, I’ve never done anything to do with engineering before so I thought I’d challenge myself and come into this industry. I feel like I’m doing quite well so far so I’m quite happy with myself.”

Kathleen joined the programme at 35-years-old, after feeling like her previous career had come to a dead end.

She said: “Luckily there are opportunities like apprenticeships that you can retrain yourself and look at other careers no matter what age now, as the policy changed for that, so I jumped in there, got my foot in the door and here I am.

“I think it’s been nice being introduced into this industry with quite a few apprentices and we all started at the same time, so everybody came from different backgrounds and I think that made me feel more at ease because I thought I might be the only girl there, which I wasn’t, and then there were also people close to my age as well so I felt like I wasn’t alone.

“Once I’ve learnt the theory of a particular skill, they give us enough room to get practical with it and they don’t hold our hands too much which is good so you get the confidence from it, from being given that independence. To be honest, learning each skill has increased my confidence in how I can help this company and be an asset to them, so the more skills I’m learning the better. They can put me where they want and I’ll be happy just to grow in that area.”

Elliott applied to the Academy because he wanted a more hands-on learning experience, and also had no prior experience in the engineering field.

“I’ve found it really good, a real challenge in a different sort of work environment. There’s plenty to do, plenty to learn, new skills to develop as well. Obviously I want to get as far as I can and learn as many skills as I can, develop my knowledge to as many sections I can get myself into, but at the moment I just want to develop them myself and find my pathway for the future.”

PETA’s Role in the Academy Development

Along with collaborating in the creation of the Academy, PETA has contributed our own training resources, with our engineering instructors delivering training at the Academy’s site.

Linda Rivera, learning & development specialist, reflects on the collaboration: “This is something we started talking about with PETA probably a couple of years ago. I was really new to the world of apprenticeships in my role and PETA really helped me understand a lot about the options of what apprenticeships could be like and how we could have them at Hamble.”

Elliot Seymour, HR director, also emphasises the significance of the partnership. "What PETA has actually brought to the business is knowledge, experience, but also independence as well. They’ve brought things that we can’t actually offer our people here, so the complimentary skills of our on-the-job training, our knowledge, our experience but also through PETA’s delivery and expertise in just bringing this all together has worked exceptionally well.”


Impact of the Academy

The Academy has already been hailed as a “success story” at Hamble, after only 8 months of operating. It has not only responded to the business’ immediate needs but also acted as a long-term investment into Hamble’s future.

Elliot added: “The Hamble Academy has enabled us to look at the future of the business in a completely different way. We now know that we can grow our own people, we can grow our own experience, so what that has been able to help us achieve is succession planning, talent development, it’s helped us to deal with the skills shortages in the UK, and we are now using it to cross-train our existing people as well.”

Future Prospects

The future looks promising for the Hamble Academy and its apprentices. Linda envisions the Academy becoming a key talent source for the company, and hopes that the programme will be the springboard to help the apprentices achieve their future aspirations and goals.

She says: “I want the Academy to be the place where managers go to, to get talent. I want them to come to us and say ‘Linda, I need this number of apprentices to go into machining’, or ‘I need this many to go into here,’ I want this to be a feeder for all the other roles on our shop floor, and I want it to have that recognition of delivering good training, and giving our apprentices good skills.

“For the apprentices, I really hope they take this opportunity, that they recognise the amount of work and effort that has gone into it and that they just take advantage of the opportunity and make the best of it, to grow their career into whatever they want to be. We get so close to them and you know what they want to do and their dreams and their aspirations, and I hope that the Academy just enables them to reach those goals that they have for themselves.”

The success of the Hamble Academy is a testament to the power of strategic partnerships and forward-thinking initiatives. By investing in the training and development of new talent, Hamble Aerostructures and PETA are not only addressing current skill shortages but also building a resilient and capable workforce ready to tackle the challenges of the future.