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RAF is latest high profile partner for diversity and inclusion group

Ollie Folayan, chair of AFBE-UK Scotland.
Ollie Folayan, chair of AFBE-UK Scotland.

The Aberdeen-based head of a membership network devoted to promoting diversity and inclusion in engineering and other sectors has welcomed the Royal Air Force (RAF) as its latest high profile partner.

The RAF has joined big names including the Mercedes  Formula 1 motor racing team and energy giant SSE in partnering with AFBE-UK.

The not-for-profit organisation supports all young people, particularly those from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds, with career aspirations in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The Mercedes F1 team is among the organisation’s partners.

Ollie Folayan, chairman of AFBE-UK Scotland, said: “The RAF has a strong focus on providing greater diversity and inclusion throughout its workforce, and we look forward to working with them to develop this.

“Our contact with the RAF began more than two years through Sgt Alan Cameron. I have been blown away by the force’s dedication to ethnic diversity”.

AFBE Scotland was launched in 2011 and has supported thousands of young people though a range of mentoring programmes.

Wing Commander Suzanne McLaughlin, RAF, head of engineer branch and trades, said: “Diversity of thought, innovation, empowerment and representing our society are key themes which run through the organisation.

Our partnership with AFBE-UK is a key element which will underpin the RAF’s recruitment, training, development and retention of the very best engineers and technicians, working on world-leading aircraft such as the F-35 Lightning, P-8A Poseidon and A400M Atlas.”

The RAF’s Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston added: “People are at the heart of everything the Royal Air Force does. Our greatest legacy to our successors is not the outstanding operational track record of today.

“Of much greater importance is that we design and start to build the Royal Air Force of the future that our successors will operate, fight and win within the battlespace of the future.”

An RAF Poseidon aircraft.

AFBE-UK Scotland’s work includes its schools programme NextGen, where industry leaders and professionals give advice to pupils; Transition, where industry leaders help aspiring engineering professionals to enter the job market; and Real Projects, where industry professionals share their knowledge and expertise.

These programmes were usually carried out in person, however, they are currently taking place online due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

A report published earlier this month by Henley Business School claimed racial discrimination is “rife” in UK businesses.

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