Key conference date for local firm

REPRESENTATIVES from leading Colne company Regal Precision Engineering company have attended a key conference on apprenticeship.

In a pilot initiative with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, BAE Systems will begin training 50 apprentices for companies in its North West supply chain in September next year.

Interested supplier companies including Regal attended a conference at the firm’s Apprentice Training Centre in Preston where the 50 young people will be trained.

The successful candidates will receive a sought-after three-year apprenticeship in engineering from BAE Systems before joining a company which supplies components or services to its military aircraft business in Lancashire or the company’s submarines design and building facility in Barrow-in-Furness. The conference followed UKCES’s announcement in September of £165 million funding under an Employer Ownership Pilot which will create thousands of jobs for young people. As part of this, £1.4 million was awarded to BAE Systems to train the 50 apprentices, which the company is matching with its own funds and resources.

Steve Lee from Regal, who attended the conference, said: “Regal is not alone in finding that the major constraint in business growth is the lack of skilled people. This initiative seeks to address the problem by creating a generation of talented machinists for the manufacturing sector. I just wish this kind of thing had been available five years ago. The BAE Systems name pulls in a better class of applicant.”

Nigel Whitehead, Group Managing Director at BAE Systems, added:“‘This pilot scheme is a win-win situation. Supplier companies with more limited resources can access first-class training programmes and facilities whilst larger businesses take responsibility for developing the specific skills they need to grow and sustain their business, and with it their supply chains. I am confident that the pilot will be successful and in time, we can extend this scheme to other parts of the UK.”

BAE Systems has around 1,000 apprentices in training in its three-year apprenticeship programme, which has one of the highest completion rates in the engineering sector and was rated Grade 1 – “Outstanding” – by Ofsted in July, 2010.

BAE was also awarded the National Apprentice Award for the Macro Employer of the Year. The company invests more than £83 million a year in the UK in education and schools activity, university partnerships and training and development for employees.