BAE Systems has opened the doors to its new £15.6m training academy which is the single largest investment in skills for the UK’s aerospace sector.
The Academy for Skills & Knowledge (ASK) is 7,400m2 in size and situated on the Samlesbury Aerospace Enterprise Zone alongside BAE Systems’ military aircraft advanced manufacturing centre. It will train all the apprentices and graduates in the Company’s military aircraft business as well as providing life-long learning and skills development activities for 13,000 employees for at least the next four decades. The ASK will also act as a collaborative skills-hub for the North West’s engineering and manufacturing sector and offer an exciting learning education centre for school children from five to 14 years old.
With 26 modern, light and airy classroom facilities, the ASK has been designed and built from scratch over three years – utilising the knowledge and experience of the Company’s training staff to provide the very best modern learning environment. It mirrors the latest advanced manufacturing technologies and factory layouts used at BAE Systems including robotics, 3D printers, a virtual reality ‘cave’, a composites clean room, electronics and welding facilities. In early 2017, the Academy will also accommodate a Hawk jet trainer for apprentices to understand the engineering complexity and build of an aircraft at first hand.
Northern Powerhouse Minister Andrew Percy said: “Our Enterprise Zones across the North have already attracted nearly 9,000 skilled workers and today BAE Systems has become the latest world-class company to get on board with our plans to build a Northern Powerhouse. Northern businesses have established themselves in the top flight of the aerospace industry and the new flagship Academy for Skills and Knowledge will offer excellent opportunities to our young people from the area.”
Chris Boardman, Managing Director of BAE Systems Military Air & Information, added: “The Academy for Skills & Knowledge is the single biggest investment in skills in the aerospace industry and offers an unrivalled modern engineering and manufacturing environment in which BAE Systems can deliver the highest quality training. We are committed to playing our part in developing skills for the future, for our business, those in our supply chain and in education. In our experience, well trained people are both socially mobile and very productive which in turn generates economic wealth for the UK.”
BAE Systems invests more than £80M per annum in skills. Flagship activities include a partnership with the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force that delivers a nationwide roadshow for 350 schools and aims to bring engineering to life through a highly interactive theatre show. BAE Systems’ recruited 667 apprentices across its UK business in 2016. Of those, 182 joined the military aircraft business. The Company’s apprentice training programme is rated ‘outstanding’ by OFSTED and was recently recognised with a Princess Royal Training Award.