BAE Systems said its need for a continuous supply of skilled employees — in particular for submarine programmes at Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria — has led to the company currently training a record 2,036 apprentices across its UK-based defence and security businesses.
This is the largest ever number of apprentices in the company’s history and is equivalent to around 6% of its 34,000 UK employees.
Further, BAE Systems said it plans to recruit an additional 574 apprentices to join in September 2017.
An estimated 293 apprentices will join the Barrow shipyard in 2017 to work on the new Dreadnought class submarines and the four remaining Astute class submarines.
Both types of submarine are destined for the Royal Navy with work on the Dreadnought programme expected to continue well into the 2030s.
Many apprentices progress to study for Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees and the company also offers direct entry onto new degree apprenticeships, which last four to five years.
At BAE Systems in the UK, 26% of the most recent apprentice intake are women and 3.5% are from ethnic minorities.
“It is hoped that even higher numbers will join in 2017 as the company strives to achieve better diversity amongst its engineering population,” said BAE Systems.
Nigel Whitehead, group managing director at BAE Systems, said: “Many of our senior directors began their careers as apprentices and we pride ourselves on rewarding ability and commitment.
“The quality of the training we are able to offer also reflects the dedication of the hundreds of BAE Systems employees who train apprentices in the workplace — passing on their unique knowledge, expertise and experience to the next generation.”
BAE Systems said it invests more than £90 million in education and skills annually in the UK.