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2020 a record year for apprenticeships, says BAE Systems

Defence giant BAE Systems is ramping up its apprenticeship schemes with plans to recruit a record-breaking 800 apprentices in 2020.

The new apprentices will join one of more than 25 apprenticeship programmes across the company’s Air, Maritime, Land and Cyber divisions, benefitting from recognised qualifications and on-the-job training while working on major projects for clients like the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy.

The firm’s apprenticeships range from ‘Intermediate’ level - for essential skills such as scaffolding, painting or welding - to ‘Advanced’, ‘Higher’ and ‘Degree’ levels.

In 2018, BAE Systems invested more than £100 million in education, skills and early careers activities in the UK and have around 2,000 apprentices in training across the country at any given time.

Charles Woodburn, Chief Executive, BAE Systems, said:

“Our apprentices are the lifeblood of our business. I’m incredibly proud of the significant contribution they make to the design and delivery of our most complex products, equipment and services, helping to ensure we remain at the forefront of technology and innovation and safeguard our national security for decades to come.

“As technology and our workplace evolves, it’s critical that we continue to invest in training the next generation of engineers and leaders. By working alongside industry peers, government and the education sector, we can ensure we are ready to respond to complex challenges of the future.”

Apprenticeships are a vital tool for bringing the next generation into manufacturing. Recent research revealed that half of engineering firms are threatened by skills shortages, with 8 in 10 saying they need to engage more with young people to plug the gap.

The government has promised to look at how it could improve its Apprenticeship Levy system to incentivise employers to offer more apprenticeships. Under the current system businesses with a salary bill of more than £3 million have to pay a mandatory levy, the funds of which can be used to pay for training apprentices. Smaller companies can share their costs of training apprentices with government, which picks up 95 per cent of the bill.

Last year, Greater Manchester launched a Levy Matchmaking Service, allowing large employers to gift their unspent levy funds to smaller companies.

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Apprentices at BAE Systems. Credit: BAE Systems

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