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New £15.6M aerospace skills & training centre opens
BAE Systems have opened a brand new £15.6m training academy at their facility in Samlesbury, Lancashire which marks the single largest investment in skills for the UK’s aerospace sector.
The Academy for Skills & Knowledge (ASK) is 7,400m2 in size and situated on the Samlesbury Aerospace Enterprise Zone alongside BAE Systems’ military aircraft advanced manufacturing centre. It will train all the apprentices and graduates in the Company’s military aircraft business as well as providing life-long learning and skills development activities for 13,000 employees for at least the next four decades. The academy will also act as a collaborative skills-hub for the North West’s engineering and manufacturing sector and offer an exciting learning education centre for school children from five to 14 years old.
The new facility has 26 modern, light and airy classroom facilities, the ASK has been designed and built from scratch over three years – utilising the knowledge and experience of the Company’s training staff to provide the very best modern learning environment. It mirrors the latest advanced manufacturing technologies and factory layouts used at BAE Systems including robotics, 3D printers, a virtual reality ‘cave’, a composites clean room, electronics and welding facilities. In early 2017, the Academy will also accommodate a Hawk jet trainer for apprentices to understand the engineering complexity and build of an aircraft at first hand.
Andrew Percy, Northern Powerhouse Minister, commented: “Our Enterprise Zones across the North have already attracted nearly 9,000 skilled workers and today BAE Systems has become the latest world-class company to get on board with our plans to build a Northern Powerhouse. Northern businesses have established themselves in the top flight of the aerospace industry and the new flagship Academy for Skills and Knowledge will offer excellent opportunities to our young people from the area.”
Chris Boardman, Managing Director of BAE Systems Military Air & Information, added: “The Academy for Skills & Knowledge is the single biggest investment in skills in the aerospace industry and offers an unrivalled modern engineering and manufacturing environment in which BAE Systems can deliver the highest quality training. We are committed to playing our part in developing skills for the future, for our business, those in our supply chain and in education. In our experience, well trained people are both socially mobile and very productive which in turn generates economic wealth for the UK.”
BAE Systems invests more than £80M per annum in skills. Flagship activities include a partnership with the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force that delivers a nationwide roadshow for 350 schools and aims to bring engineering to life through a highly interactive theatre show. BAE Systems’ recruited 667 apprentices across its UK business in 2016. Of those, 182 joined the military aircraft business. The Company’s apprentice training programme is rated ‘outstanding’ by OFSTED and was recently recognised with a Princess Royal Training Award.
ASK facility in depth
• The Academy is equipped with the latest technology, which replicates the equipment used in BAE’s manufacturing facilities and engineering labs, where world-leading combat aircraft including Eurofighter Typhoon and the F-35 Lightning II are produced
• A manufacturing Kuka robot cell identical to the one found in BAE Systems’ advanced manufacturing line, producing parts for Eurofighter Typhoon and F-35 jets
• A virtual reality cave, used in a training environment for the first time, which allows people to mimic any process from enhancing technology on a military jet simulating building major infrastructure
• 3D printers to teach skills in designing and rapid prototyping of parts, which is increasingly used in modern manufacturing
• A carbon fibre cleanroom to help trainees understand the materials used in Eurofighter Typhoon and F-35 Lightning II aircraft
• A full-size Hawk jet trainer to give workers the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the aircraft used by Air Forces across the world