A Government minister has urged Lancashire businesses to follow in the footsteps of defence giant BAE Systems.
Skills minister Matthew Hancock said small firms needed to look at bidding into a cash pot behind its Employer Ownership Pilot, set up to tackle gaps in the skills chain.
BAE was one of the successful applicants into the first round of bidding and has vowed to create up to 50 apprenticeship across its North West supply chain.
It has signed up its first business, Manchester-based MSM Aerospace Fabricators, which will employ a pair of BAE-trained apprentices.
Mr Hancock said: “The BAE Systems project is a great example of a large company working with its supply chain to fill skills gaps, while also giving young people in the North West the best possible start to their career in engineering.
“I would urge other businesses in Lancashire – particularly small companies – to consider how the fund can help them grow, from creating new apprenticeship programmes to setting up specialist training academies.
“For British businesses to succeed and compete in the global race, they need a highly-skilled workforce that can meet the challenges of the future.”
The successful applicants will receive a three-year apprenticeship with BAE which will see them start at its training centre on Marsh Lane, Preston, followed by placements at their ‘home’ business in the supply chain.
MSM managing director Mike Pedley, who is an apprentice at BAE, said he believed its apprentices would bring “huge value” to the business.
He said: “Our business requires fabrication and welding NVQs, but also an appreciation of the full range of aerospace skills; this is something that, uniquely, the BAE Systems Preston Training School can provide.
“I am very happy for our apprentices to go through all the modules that the BAE Systems apprentices currently undertake. We would like to take on two apprentices through this scheme to start in September.”
Cliff Robson, industrial capability director at BAE Systems, said he hoped other firms in its supply chain would come forward.
He said: “The pilot enables supplier companies, with more limited resources, to access first-class training programmes and facilities.”