Building a Talent Bridge at Icon Aerospace Technology

Icon Aerospace Technology is continuing to form strong links with academia to build a talent bridge after the remarkable success of one of its young engineers.

Sara Killelay joined the business back in September 2016, as a Graduate equipped with a degree in Product Design, seemingly worlds apart from the polymer composites that Icon manufactures. However, through the course Sara developed extensive CAD (Computer Aided Design) skills, which were quickly put to work, drawing attention to her potential. After just 12 weeks the budding young engineer was made responsible for developing and implementing the company’s CNC fabric cutting process to ensure repeatability of parts manufactured, following a c. £100k investment into new machinery.  Recognising Sara’s potential, Icon invested in specialist training, which has enabled Sara to unlock her potential and transform the company’s new part development process.

Today, Sara operates in a team of 11 people, working on more than 20 parts each month to ensure they are CNC compliant. These parts are supplied to major aerospace OEMs including Airbus and Rolls-Royce, representing the company’s most prestigious client base. Impressively, Sara is now building a career utilising all her skills, demonstrating the opportunities that exist to all parties if employers harness the innovation and energy of many of our graduates and apprentices.

Icon Aerospace Technology is also playing a key role in the development of a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP), working closely with establishments such as the University of Derby, to facilitate an exchange of information and access to technical resources. This is driving further business improvements, and giving innovative people a taste for a career in engineering. Already the KTP has brought about positive changes throughout the company’s toolmaking process, allowing Icon Aerospace Technology to produce components within shorter timeframes and with greater design flexibility than conventional methods.

Projects such as this are proving crucial in helping the UK manufacturing sector to overcome a growing skills shortage. According to the manufacturer’s association the EEF, three-quarters of UK engineering firms have faced difficulties finding the right skilled workers over the last three years. The association has warned that the skills shortage is putting productivity growth at risk and putting further pressure onto companies that already face challenges in both domestic and overseas markets. Furthermore, female talent is particularly hard to find according to The Women’s Engineering Society, which claims that women comprise only nine per cent of the UK engineering workforce.

Tim Pryce, CEO of Icon Aerospace Technology, is hoping that Sara’s story will inspire other engineering businesses to partner with the education sector and increase both the time and financial investment required to turn people with raw skills into established engineering talent.

He commented: “At Icon Aerospace Technology, we committed to creating a talent bridge for young people to help build our business. Recruiting and investing in people like Sara is great for businesses, universities and of course, the engineer in question. There are young people in education with raw skills which, with a bit of investment, support and development, can add great value to an engineering business. Our own commitment to talent is just one of the ways we are strengthening our capability and capacity.”


Advanced 3D printing capability accelerates product development by 50%

Read more

Icon Aerospace Technology develops unique formula for aircraft fire seals

Read more

Multi-million-pound modernisation programme lifts Icon Aerospace Technology to new heights

Read more

face2face engineering

face2face engineering is a unique and productive approach which is all about creating stronger bonds – in our products and polymers, as well as through our people.


Get in touch

We are responsive and ready to help, whether you want more information, a quote or technical advice. Simply fill in the form, call +44 (0) 1777 714 300, or click here to get in touch via email