Meet the trainer: Neil “Flash” Marginson

Meet the trainer: Neil “Flash” Marginson

As Marshall Skills Academy gears up to onboard its largest ever cohort of apprentices in September, Technical Trainer Neil “Flash” Marginson hopes to help drive a resurgence in engineering among young people.

Neil joined the training team in January 2023 as a B2 instructor, bringing over three decades of RAF engineering and technical experience to the table. He traces his love of aviation back to childhood caravan holidays in Anglesey, where he was fascinated by the frequent flyovers coming to and from nearby RAF Valley.

After joining the RAF in 1989, Neil spent the bulk of his career in engineering roles focussed on fast jets and rotary wing aircraft, including Chinook helicopters. These assignments seldom involved providing training to others on a formal basis, but there were ample opportunities for teaching. As Neil explains, “When you’ve served in so many different environments and theatres of operation, it ends up being the case that you’re always teaching somebody. You learn and then you pass on what you’ve learned to others, which is something I really enjoyed doing.”

In his final few years with the RAF, Neil chose to double down on his passion for sharing his skills and experience to others, taking a 4 year teaching role that provided him with a PGCE in Educational and Instructional Technology from the University of Greenwich. After deciding to leave the military, Neil took part in a number of transition workshops and learned more about some of the key players in the UK’s aviation and engineering training sector, which is how he started talking to the team at Marshall Skills Academy.

During his first year in his new role, Neil has been training the first-year apprentices who joined in September 2022. He has been impressed by their enthusiasm and willingness to learn, but was also struck by their general lack of prior exposure to basic hand skills. He has come to realise that this is increasingly common among school leavers: “Engineering has been put to sleep,” he says. “People aren’t taught to build things anymore.”

Despite this, Neil is optimistic and ready for a challenge. He believes that aviation engineering programmes, while continuing to focus on core skills, must embrace new technologies that are now capturing the imagination of young people. “There are some really fascinating areas of aviation that we can incorporate going forward, such as UAVs and electric aircraft to name two examples,” he notes. “Young people are asking what they can do around these trends, and I think we can provide a really compelling answer.”

Neil also doesn’t see the lack of hand skills at an early age as a permanent barrier to developing skills and talent in an apprentice. In his view, “the capabilities can come in time; what makes a successful apprentice is a positive outlook and being fundamentally open to new ideas and approaches.”

Neil feels that Marshall Skills Academy is uniquely placed to deliver the future of technical training: “It’s a challenge, but an exciting one,” he says. “Marshall has done a really good job of leveraging its history and expertise, building bridges with industry, and taking on the important role of training their apprentices. We’re clearly the company people want to do business with, so I think the future’s bright.”

If you’re interested in a Marshall apprenticeship or joining the training team to develop the next generation of aviation engineering talent, visit