Record numbers of apprentices building brighter futures at BAE Systems
Plans to expand apprenticeship cohort
BAE Systems is revitalising its Clydeside workforce with a record number of apprenticeship programmes as it moves towards creating a ‘digital shipyard’.
The development and employment of thousands of apprentices at the firm’s Glasgow base contributes directly to Scotland’s economy and skilled workforce.
BAE Systems’ 460 current apprentices include workers employed as Modern and Graduate Apprentices, and school pupils getting experience of the business through Foundation Apprenticeships.
They are working as Engineering/Construction craft apprentices across 10 trade areas, as engineering technicians and systems engineers, and in project management, supply chain, IT, HR, manufacturing engineering and finance.
Last year the company started its first cohorts of ancillary and trials and commissioning apprentices, with plans to expand this further to include quality and quantity surveying apprenticeships in 2023.
Skills being passed on
By 2025 BAE plans to have more than 800 apprentices on early career programmes, supported in their skills learning by the latest technological tools.
BAE Systems Head of Early Careers Phil Brown said: “Since inception in 1999 BAE Systems has recruited apprentices to help grow and develop a skilled workforce, recognising the benefits of ‘growing your own talent’.
“There is a rich history of apprenticeships at BAE systems and its former companies dating back decades - we still have employees who started 50 years ago as apprentices on the Clyde – many who are highly involved in passing down not only their skills and experience but their passion and enthusiasm to apprentices and future apprentices.
“From a resourcing and skills perspective, at present we have an ageing workforce and a huge order book. Looking forward there is a great need for reskilling and upskilling.
“One of the ways the business has responded is an increase in early careers numbers and especially apprentice numbers.
“There is an attraction issue across Scotland, in particular in fabrication and welding, which is a huge part of our business – hence why we have announced record numbers of apprenticeship programmes.
“New technology is an important element to attracting new talent, so as one example we’ve just invested in two augmented reality welders, the vision being that we use that as a learning and teaching aid.
“Most craft apprentices do some form of welding and these pieces of technology are next generation so will be fantastic in providing a safe experience, which feels as if it’s real, all while being a sustainable solution.”
Over 12,000 employers support Scottish Apprenticeships, which are work-based learning opportunities or jobs with industry-recognised qualifications. Designed with employers for employers, Scottish Apprenticeships are demand-led and responsive to regional skills needs.
Improving opportunities to learn
Phil continued: “Digital poverty is something that is live – which is why we make sure all apprentices can enjoy access to a laptop during their apprenticeship to help them complete it, as we understand some may struggle to do so without that support.
“We are working towards becoming digital shipyards, with everything from wi-fi across all sites to the ability to access all training online.
“Recognising the need for earlier STEM intervention, flexible outreach resources which suit all ages and stages of learning have been developed.
“In partnership with Skills Development Scotland, Scottish Qualifications Authority Further Education Establishments and Local Authorities we helped create a first of its kind, the National Progression Award (NPA) in Shipbuilding SCQF 5, which is currently being piloted to 25 young people.
“This pilot affords young people the opportunity to work towards engineering qualifications while still enrolled at school.
“This pilot continues to support both attraction into Fabrication and Welding and inclusivity of future apprentices who otherwise would have potentially missed out on engineering opportunities. I see this partnership as one of the biggest achievements of the past year.”
BAE Systems’ efforts led to the company being named as a finalist in the Scottish Apprenticeship Awards, in the Large Employer of the Year category, sponsored by Anderson Strathern.