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The typical perception of someone who would work in the aviation industry is that of a middle-aged man with decades of experience. Well, this is not always the case, the aviation industry is one of the most innovative industries in the world, not only in a technological sense but also for recruitment and professional development. There are no entry barriers or glass ceilings in aviation, dedication and passion are the two main components you need to succeed. So, no matter what your ethnicity, age or gender, there is a gateway to a promising career.

This is a view shared by Mixed Freight Services. Through the work the company has conducted with Apprenticeships and upskilling, they have been able to provide people of all backgrounds the foundations for a secure career. Another pre-conceived perception of the industry due to the nature of the work is that you need to be at least 18 years old to obtain the security clearance and training – an essential part of working in the industry that is safety focused and a hive of activity and innovation. Again, this not the case and has been proven by 16-year-old Ja O’Keeffe, who is believed to be the youngest person in the UK to become a fully licensed security screening operative. Ja left school and wanted to find a role which gave him a sense of satisfaction. He joined Mixed Freight Services and found exactly that. He worked hard to complete all his necessary training and passed his screening operator licence with an exemplary score. Security screening requires an attentive mind; operators must be able to spot a threat and this is where youthfulness can pay off. This does not mean undisciplined attitude or being inexperienced, as all screening operatives are aware of the threat and what is at risk for a moment’s lapse in concentration. That is why all screening operators work together as a team supporting each other in the screening processes and are required to undertake monthly training and yearly relicensing.

Mixed Freight Services has worked with Heathrow Airport’s Heathrow Employment & Skills Academy on Apprenticeships for upskilling people that already work in the industry. Luke was a great example of this collaboration, where he featured at the Academy’s 2017 awards. Ja and Aaron, fellow Apprentices at Mixed Freight Services, now represent the new Apprenticeship category, a scheme where Apprentices work in a mentored, practical and academic environment for either 12 or 24 month period pending on age.

Both Mixed Freight Services and Heathrow Airport see the importance of growing and upskilling the workforce at Heathrow, with the continuing increase in both passenger and cargo demand, this major international aviation hub is now running at full capacity needing a third runway. With the proposed expansion there is a massive drive to make it a success, which is creating a whole range of fantastic career opportunities for local residents in developing Heathrow ‘s next-generation work-force.