A new programme designed to train young people for a career in the RAF is being launched in West Norfolk.
The College of West Anglia has teamed up with RAF Marham to deliver a new Air and Defence Career College (A&DCC) course, which will run for the first time this autumn.
Student recruitment is already under way and an open evening will take place at the college next month for would-be students to find out more.
The course is one of the first of its kind in the country and college principal David Pomfret said: “It’s really prestigious.
“This is much more than just a course. It’s building on our existing relationship with Marham.
The course, which will begin in September, will last for one or two years, depending on the level of qualification.
It offers pathways in catering, computing and engineering towards careers in the RAF or associated industries, with course time split equally between the subject area and military training.
Most of the course will be delivered from the college’s Lynn campus, though students will get first-hand experience on bases like Marham.
The only current programme of its kind was launched at Lincoln College in 2016. Officials say that, of 35 students to sign up in its initial year, 25 are currently going through the recruitment process to join the RAF.
Wing Commander Stewart Geary, commanding officer of RAF Marham’s base support wing, said launching the programme at one of the service’s “flagship stations” was critical to its future.
He said: “It’s so important. We need people. We can’t fly aircraft or support them without people.”
The launch of the course is also due to coincide with the arrival of the first of Marham’s new F35 fighter jets this summer.
Warrant Officer Mo Howard, the station’s engagement officer, said: “With Marham being one of our biggest bases, and having a massive future, we want to bring people back to Norfolk.”
Course leader Jo Evans served for 23 years in the RAF and said the programme
She said: “We are going to go to six or seven RAF station. I’d never been on an RAF station when I started. I had no knowledge of what RAF life was like.
“We’re going to give them that information so when they go to Halton (where basic training is undertaken), they’ve got a good knowledge.”
An open evening to promote the programme will take place at the college on February 6. Officials say they have already had 15 expressions of interest in the course.
More information about the programme is already available via the college’s website, www.cwa.ac.uk.