The Academy for Skills and Knowledge, at BAE Systems’ Submarines site in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, will be officially opened today by the Secretary of State for Defence, Gavin Williamson.
The state-of-the-art £25m training academy covers 89,340 sq ft and was built to develop the world-class engineering skills required to design, build and deliver complex submarine programmes to the Royal Navy. Featuring classrooms, workshops, a virtual reality suite and scale-model sized submarine units, the academy will provide bespoke training to almost 9,000 employees, including nearly 800 apprentices.
Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Defence, said: “The Dreadnought programme is truly a national endeavour, employing some of the brightest engineers and scientists in this country.
“This new Academy for Skills and Knowledge is a vital part of this programme as, alongside our industry partners, we strive to upskill and maintain the talented workforce building these state-of-the-art submarines.”
Cliff Robson, Managing Director of BAE Systems Submarines, said: “This is a fantastic facility that will provide a unique environment in which to train our growing workforce. Our investment in skills will not only ensure we have a pipeline of world-class talent available to deliver our complex programmes, but will also positively contribute to the economic prosperity of the region and the UK’s engineering industry.
“The new academy will give our current and future workforce access to the very latest in learning and development, demonstrating our lasting commitment not just to our current employees but to those who will join our company in years to come.
“To support this, we continue to work closely with local schools and colleges and we see the academy as another positive step towards helping to raise standards of education in the area.”
The academy is part of a substantial site investment programme that will provide a range of new and upgraded facilities to the workforce – from experienced naval architects and systems engineers to new apprentices and graduates – working to deliver the Astute and Dreadnought class submarines for the Royal Navy.
The academy will deliver a range of training, from mechanical and electrical skills in its 10 workshops to design and project management in its 30 classrooms. Resources such as the virtual reality training suite will allow employees to hone their skills in a simulated environment, before working on the real product.
It also forms part of the Company’s ongoing commitment to developing future talent, with more than 280 employees being recruited to join Submarines on early careers programmes in 2019. This follows more than 250 employees that joined as apprentices, higher apprentices or graduates earlier this year, as the business continues to support the ramp-up of production on the Dreadnought programme.
BAE Systems’ Submarines business is a major contributor to the regional and national UK economy. Last year it spent approximately £700m with more than 700 suppliers and in 2016 supported one in 20 jobs in the regional economy.
During a visit to Barrow in May this year, the Defence Secretary also opened a new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility, the Central Yard Complex, where certain phases of construction for the Dreadnought class will take place – marking the latest development in a major infrastructure investment programme.
The Submarines academy is the second of its type to be opened by BAE Systems in North West England and joins a network of similar facilities in place to train and develop the 34,000 BAE Systems employees across the UK. The first Academy for Skills and Knowledge was opened in Samlesbury, Lancashire, to support BAE Systems’ Air business, and last year celebrated delivering more than 250,000 training hours in its first year.