The success of our business is all down to our people. We can’t deliver innovative technologies, offer world-class consultancy, or meet our customers’ evolving needs in the digital age without the right combination of skills and experience.
In today’s market, diversity, equity and inclusion – as well as accessible learning – are more critical than ever in attracting, retaining and developing talent in the face of the ongoing digital skills gap. According to our research, 97% of decision-makers within critical industries admit a shortage of talent is hindering their ability to gain a digital advantage.
But it’s not just about our current people. We must also constantly have one eye on the future so we can bring through the new digital skills that will be required in the years to come. That’s why it’s so important to recognise the critical role of skills development in empowering young people and their future success.
Investing in the next generation of talent and the future of the industry as a whole is not only vital for their personal growth, but also for the success and security of our nation. Initiatives such as World Youth Skills Day offer a timely reminder of this importance.
Enabling skill development
At BAE Systems Digital Intelligence, we are committed to facilitating education and developing skills to empower young individuals. Through our strategic partnerships and initiatives, we aim to inspire and engage the next generation in STEM fields. For instance, our collaboration with InnovateHer connects students with industry role models and provides e-learning platforms in schools across the North West of England. We want to show young people that there are multiple pathways to success in STEM, be it through apprenticeships, internships or immediately after getting a university degree.
We also value the power of innovation and creativity; these are traits that we actively look for in our employees. That's why we created an engaging game called 'Legend of the Cyber King,' which was showcased at this year’s Cheltenham Science Festival. The game combines technology and entertainment to introduce young people to the captivating world of cybersecurity by teaching them how to ‘crack the code’.
By offering immersive experiences and demonstrating the real-world impact of our work, we hope to spark curiosity and attract young minds to pursue careers in STEM – particularly those who may not have previously considered the industry open to them.
At the same time, we are taking steps to provide equal opportunities for all ages, including those who want to return to the STEM industry after taking a break in their career. For example, we have partnered with Tech Returners, a programme that helps anyone get up to speed with modern Java and frontend technologies, and ‘Coding Black Females’, an initiative that enables black women who already have some experience as software engineers to return to this field following a career break.
These are both equally as important as reaching those who may be completely new to the field, which our partnership with Code First Girls does to help women of all backgrounds build and develop their digitalskills. We also have our own Cyber Accelerator, which provides an opportunity for individuals with software development experience to take their first step into the world of national security.
Making an impact
Newly-launched research from Oxford Economics reveals the broader BAE Systems business’ investment of £140 million in recruiting and developing apprentices, graduates and placement students in 2022. These have been highly successful, with a record-breaking 1,070 new apprentices, as well as 710 graduates and undergraduates, hired just last year.
And we’re not planning on slowing down. Giving opportunities to young people from all backgrounds – empowering them to develop and maximise their potential in the digital age – will always be core to our mission.
On this World Youth Skills Day, we as a business take great pride in our ongoing efforts to support young individuals. Equipping them with the skills they need will give them a brighter and more secure future in STEM, while at the same time enabling us to continue making the world a safer and more prosperous place.

Theresa Palmer

Global Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, BAE Systems Digital Intelligence