BAE Systems is to open a new £15.6m Lancashire training academy, it announced as Prime Minister David Cameron visited its Warton base to launch a new Degree Apprenticeships scheme.
The flagship training academy in the new Lancashire Enterprise Zone at Samlesbury will offer state-of-the-art facilities.
I think we should be incredibly proud of what this company doesPrime Minister David Cameron
It will be completed in time for the 2016 apprenticeship intake.
During his visit, the Prime Minister praised BAE for its contribution to the economy.
Mr Cameron spoke to more than 300 apprentices from companies across the North West, including many working on highly advanced engineering projects such as Eurofighter Typhoon, F-35 Lightning II and unmanned air systems.
Mr Cameron said: “I think we should be incredibly proud of what this company does.
“Here you are, making the Typhoon, an aircraft that has proven itself again and again in the skies over Libya and Iraq and over the skies of our own country.”
He said the company had a key role to play in the economic recovery, and added: “I say we need to train more young people and you are investing in more apprentices.
“I say we need to export to other parts of the world, and you are blazing a trail in exports.”
Degree Apprenticeships are co-designed by employers to boost the employment prospects of apprentices.
In some cases they will also lead to professional registration or chartered status with a relevant professional body. The apprentice will be able to gain a full bachelor’s or master’s degree without paying any fees as the cost of course fees are shared between Government and employers.
The Prime Minister said the new degree apprenticeships were in response particularly to smaller companies who said they struggled to attract the best graduates.
Mr Cameron said: “The education system is only working if you are producing school leavers and graduates that can do the job a modern economy is needing.
“We need employers to get stuck in with the universities and talk to them about the courses that are best for them.”
Ian King, chief executive of BAE Systems, said: “Our record apprentice intake and investment in a new training facility highlights the importance of apprentices as a means of developing the highly skilled, ambitious and enthusiastic workforce needed to deliver world-leading technologies.
“I’m extremely proud of our apprenticeship programme and the value it provides to BAE Systems and the UK.
“The programme has experienced significant growth and we are committed to ensuring those joining the company have the best possible training experience, grounding them for the exciting, challenging careers that lie ahead.”