Defence isn’t just about protecting lives. It’s also about protecting and improving livelihoods. The UK Defence Industry helps communities all around Britain to thrive and prosper, by providing over 300,000 high-value engineering and manufacturing jobs. What’s more, many of the jobs are in the regions with the highest unemployment levels – where they really matter.
For Britain’s young people, the industry provides many opportunities to learn a skilled trade. Every year we take in and train over a thousand apprentices. It’s highly successful. Rolls Royce’s apprenticeship programme, for instance, has an impressive 98% retention rate. Through the industry young people are getting the start they deserve with engaging employment and the transferable skills they’ll need for the future.
The UK defence industry employs thousands of apprentices every year and gives them a chance to train for a career in one of the most technologically advanced industries in the world.
The BAE Systems Advanced Apprenticeship programme is one of the largest such schemes in the UK. At any one time, the company has up to 1,000 young people employed on its numerous training programmes. Apprentices can train in a wide number of skills, from engineering to business administration and information technology.
The apprenticeship is the foundation of a career with BAE Systems and large scale programmes such as this give thousands of young people the chance of pursuing a challenging and rewarding career.
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of watching your ideas take flight. Especially when you’re working on some of the most exciting projects in the world including the state-of-the-art Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jet and the project to build the Royal Navy’s giant new aircraft carriers.
But it’s not just the big companies in the defence industry who employ and train young people. There are hundreds of SMEs up and down the country who employ apprentices, boosting the skills base of the nation. MSM, or the Middleton Sheet Metal Company is one such firm. MSM began trading more than 70 years ago and has a proud history of taking on and training young men and women in the Manchester area. The company provides many very small but absolutely vital parts for many RAF aircraft such as the Nimrod, the Harrier jump-jet and the Tornado.
Over the years MSM has seen hundreds of 16 year-olds join the company and go on to be talented engineers, indeed their current engineering manager started at the firm as an apprentice. Although on a relatively small scale, companies such as MSM provide the UK economy with highly skilled and well trained engineers that contribute to the strong intellectual base of the UK.
Although many of the defence industries 300,000 employees do work for the bigger companies, there are also thousands of jobs up and down the UK to be found in the defence industry’s smaller companies, just like MSM. The Ministry of Defence entrusts small companies across the country to provide our troops with millions of pounds worth of high quality kit every year. The industry in the UK has more SMEs than the French, German, Italian, Spanish and Norwegian industries combined. This illustrates what a vibrant and diverse industry defence is in the UK today, SMEs are often seen as the bedrock of an economy and the industry readily recognises the huge benefits such companies bring.
Ultimately though, it is the calibre of the people that the industry is most proud of. Many jobs in the defence industry are high value and highly skilled positions. Working on a project such as Typhoon, where employees contribute to the operation of one of the worlds most capable and advanced supersonic fighter jets, is more than just your run-of-the-mill position – and this is true across the breadth of the industry.