From education to employment


BAE Systems announced today that it is currently training an unprecedented 2,036 apprentices across its UK-based defence and security businesses – equivalent to around six per cent of its 34,000 UK employees. This is the largest ever number in the Company’s history, surpassing an original target to train 2,000 apprentices in 2018. In addition, BAE Systems announced today plans to recruit an additional 574 apprentices to join in September 2017.

The figures reflect the need for a continuous pipeline of highly skilled employees trained by the Company in-house; particularly to work on two concurrent submarine programmes at Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria. Next year 293 apprentices will join the Barrow shipyard to work on the new Dreadnought class submarines and the four remaining Astute class submarines. Both types of submarine are destined for the Royal Navy with work on the Dreadnought programme expected to continue well into the 2030s.

The number of apprentices in the business also reflects the value of apprentices’ contribution to BAE Systems’ UK businesses overall and the continued success of the apprentice training scheme. The majority of UK apprentices are being trained specifically for engineering related roles and undergo three-and-a-half to four year training programmes. Many apprentices also progress to study Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees and the Company is also now able to offer direct entry onto new degree apprenticeships, which last four to five years.

At BAE Systems in the UK, 26 per cent of the most recent apprentice intake are women and three and a half per cent are from ethnic minority groups. It is hoped that even higher numbers will join in 2017 as the Company strives to achieve better diversity amongst its engineering population. Over recent years BAE Systems has developed a number of education projects with local schools and colleges that are designed to appeal specifically to girls and young people from ethnic minorities.

Nigel Whitehead, Group Managing Director at BAE Systems said: “This is a really exciting time to join BAE Systems as an apprentice. We offer a unique training experience and unrivalled opportunities to progress through our organisation regardless of background. Many of our senior Directors began their careers as apprentices and we pride ourselves on rewarding ability and commitment. The quality of the training we are able to offer also reflects the dedication of the hundreds of BAE Systems employees who train apprentices in the workplace – passing on their unique knowledge, expertise and experience to the next generation.”

Christina Dines, an award winning ex-apprentice from the Company’s site at Rochester in Kent added: “My apprenticeship changed the direction of my career to one I didn’t even know existed. I would absolutely recommend an apprenticeship with BAE Systems to anyone who wants to gain practical work experience, whilst working towards a career.”

Applications to join the 2017 training programme can be made via

The closing date is 28 February 2017.

BAE Systems invests more than £90M in education and skills annually in the UK. The investment ranges from a nationwide engineering roadshow for schools to a life-long learning programme for employees.

BAE Systems is one of the UK’s largest employers of apprentices and manages its own sought-after apprenticeship training programme. BAE Systems apprenticeships have been declared as ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted, and the Company won the overall National  Apprentice Macro Employer of the Year in 2015, and was Regionally Highly Commended in 2016. More recently BAE Systems has been recognised with a prestigious Princess Royal Training Award.

In recent years the Company has led sector-based employers by chairing the Apprenticeship Trailblazer Group, designing new apprenticeship standards and assessment plans, liaising with the Department for Education, Skills Funding Agency, SEMTA, professional bodies and awarding organisations. The new innovative types of apprenticeships offer vocational experience, academic knowledge and behavioural development.‎BAE Systems has now designed 20 new aerospace, airworthiness and maritime apprenticeship standards with other employers that will ensure apprentices receive consistently high quality training and meet the needs of large companies and SMEs. 

The breakdown of the 574 apprentice roles available is as follows:


  • 286 at Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria
  • 2 at Weymouth, Dorset
  • 2 at Ash Vale, Surrey
  • 3 at Frimley, Surrey

Military Air and Information:

  • 110 at Warton and Samlesbury sites in Lancashire
  • 6 at Yeovil, Somerset
  • 36 at Humberside airport, Yorkshire
  • 9 at Brough, Yorkshire

Naval Ships

  • 32 at Glasgow
  • 2 at Portsmouth Naval Base, Hampshire
  • 2 at New Malden, Surrey
  • 4 at New Malden/Frimley/Portsmouth (roles split across these sites)

Maritime Services:

  • 45 at Portsmouth Naval Base, Hampshire
  • 1 at Broad Oak, Hampshire
  • 1 at Cowes, Isle of Wight

Electronic Systems:

  • 10 at Rochester, Kent

Land Systems:

  • 5 at Telford, Shropshire
  • 6 at Radway Green, Cheshire
  • 5 at Glascoed, South Wales
  • 5 at Washington, Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Weapon Systems:

  • 2 at Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria

Related Articles