Read Richard’s comments in full below.
The UK jobs market has drastically changed and young adults entering the workforce are facing a unique struggle. The ramifications of the Covid-19 pandemic mean many organisations have frozen, scaled back or abandoned recruitment plans, with many workers also furloughed. As a result, students have been left with greater uncertainty about their future careers. It is therefore crucial for young people to be aware of the range of career options available to them – whether that’s an apprenticeship, full-time education or entry into their first role.
Investing for the future
It’s the collective duty and responsibility of Government, the education sector and industry to work together to provide students with a full awareness of the opportunities available to them, and to make certain that the route they choose develops the skills they need to succeed. For this reason, BAE Systems supports and welcomes the Government’s commitment to skills in the recently published FE White Paper. Placing employers at the heart of defining skills needs, the focus on high quality qualifications and apprentice standards and a commitment to local skills solutions that the paper recommends, are all key to meeting the needs of young people, our existing workforce and the future prosperity of the country. The package of measures to support the young unemployed and specifically Kickstart, are crucial to ensure that young people have pathways now into quality apprenticeships and employment.
For those of us who are in a position to do so, we must continue to invest in our workforce and create new opportunities. This will play a significant role in the country’s economic recovery and help to build a highly skilled workforce to meet future skills requirements and to ensure that the UK avoids a skills crisis in years to come. This is especially critical for the manufacturing and engineering sector, which like many specialist industries has an ageing workforce. It is imperative that talent is attracted, developed and retained, ready for us to embrace the emerging possibilities of Industry 4.0 and beyond.
Apprenticeships are key when it comes to providing young people with the necessary skills to work in highly specialised and technical industries. Through on-the-job learning of practical skills and the opportunity to work alongside industry professionals, they provide young people with a direct path to long-term careers and stable employment.
Bolstering the pipeline
At BAE Systems, we continue to invest in our future workforce and our investment in skills provides an essential pipeline of talent which enables us to continue to deliver cutting-edge defence and security capabilities to our customers, helping to protect our national security. Despite the pandemic, throughout 2021 we will recruit more than 1,250 new apprentices and graduates into our early careers programmes.
Opportunities are available in a variety of roles, including accountancy, human resources, electronic systems design and mechanical fitting, across exciting and nationally important projects such as Tempest, a future combat air system for the Royal Air Force and Dreadnought, a new generation of submarines for the Royal Navy. Delivering cutting-edge technology requires cutting-edge training and our early careers programmes are carefully tailored to ensure our apprentices and graduates gain and have access to the knowledge, support and tools they need to excel now and in the future.
With more than 850 apprenticeships and 400 graduate roles available across the country, the most the company has recruited in a single year, we’ve adjusted our regular recruitment process to align with the latest Government guidance. From remote interviewing to virtual inductions, our teams have worked hard to ensure applicants are supported throughout their joining journey. And, by delivering training through our new virtual learning environment, we’ve made sure that all of our apprentices have been able to continue their training.
We have doubled the type of apprenticeships programmes that we offer to more than 50, including options to study up to degree and masters levels. Every one of these programmes provides the strongest start to what we hope will be a long career with us. The wide range of opportunities means that whether someone is a school or college leaver, looking for their first job or looking to retrain, there’s a role suitable for everyone.
Indeed, given the current economic situation, it’s likely that we will see an upward trend in adults pursuing apprenticeships as an opportunity to reskill. At BAE Systems almost 10% of our apprentices are aged 25 or over. For those who want or need to change career, apprenticeships provide a valuable opportunity to gain the skills required without the financial barriers of full-time study.
We must work together to deliver technical, further and higher education pathways which support the UK’s economic needs and provide the best training for our current and future workforce. By delivering these opportunities, for both young people and adults, we will emerge from the current situation stronger and prepared for the challenges of the future.