We employ approximately 29% of the working population in designing and building all the Royal Navy’s submarines and it’s a great source of pride in the town. Barrow itself however is not without its challenges; it is small and densely populated and unfortunately its people have some of the poorest health outcomes in Cumbria. Improving the skills, wellbeing, health and prosperity of the local area is really important to us and all employers in the area. Businesses and their local supply chains need people with the right skills and environment to attract investment and other businesses The right social, economic and environmental conditions must be present.
To help overcome these local challenges and improve skills and drive prosperity, we are collaborating with regional partners in developing a strategic and proactive approach.
- Through the Movement to Work programme, we have offered in excess of 170 placements to young unemployed people in Barrow, approximately two-thirds of whom have transitioned onto apprenticeship programmes.
- We work with local partners to deliver a wide range of activities across different stages of education. This has included supporting the Furness Education Trust since its inception in 2009, with £400,000 in funding as well as ongoing in-kind support, which have contributed to the Trust moving from OFSTED ‘Special Measures’ to ‘Good’ and increasing student entry numbers by 184% over that period.
- We have supported the local Barrow Dock Museum project which helped attract £900,000 of further investment.
- We funded a counselling service with the Cumbria Alcohol and Drugs Advisory Service to provide support to those who signal they may have a drug or alcohol problem.
Artist's impression of the proposed development of The Learning Quarter university campus.
A new Learning Quarter and Community Resilience Hubs
As a key stakeholder in the ‘Town Deal’ partnership, we have worked with a number of local partners to develop a town investment plan, which resulted in a successful application for £25m of government funding to improve the local area. The plan includes the creation of a £10.4m Barrow Learning Quarter, consisting of a new university campus and the establishment of a number of Community Resilience Hubs. These two projects will bring significant benefits to Barrow-in-Furness in the most disadvantaged areas of the town and will benefit from £1 million in support from BAE Systems in total over the next three years.
BAE Systems Submarines Academy for Skills and Knowledge
The Learning Quarter will provide an integrated further education and higher education presence, with a focus on enhancing the employability of secondary school students and increasing their potential to go to university. It will not only enhance progression into higher education for local people, but will support the retention and attraction of talent to the area, and enhance the reputation of the town. It will provide new jobs for Barrow both directly and indirectly, and additionally it will generate spend in the local economy.
The Community Resilience Hubs will provide an opportunity for local people to develop skills, access services and come together to build thriving communities. The project will also support access to and use of digital technology, and address health inequalities across Barrow. A social enterprise project will be set up and delivered from the Hubs once these are in place.
The challenges at Barrow require a long-term, evidence based, collaborative and well-resourced response, but the initial indicators of the effectiveness of our involvement are really encouraging.