DEFENCE manufacture and research remains a key sector of the Essex economy and the drive is on to recruit more trainees.

BAE Systems, Britain’s largest defence company, has set out to recruit 710 apprentices in 2015, the largest single intake since the defence arm of the company was founded in Chelmsford during the First World War.

The new recruits, two-thirds of whom will be employed in engineering-related roles, will work across 14 of BAE Systems’ aerospace, security and defence sites in Chelmsford and the rest of the UK. BAE employs about 40,000 people Projects will include submarine design and manufacture, military aircraft, electronics systems, ground combat vehicles, radar and cyber security.

Richard Hamer, BAE’s education director and head of early career programmes said: “Our year-on-year increase in apprentice recruitment reflects the continued success of our training programme. BAE has a great track record in developing skilled and committed employees who are highly valued by the business.

“Our apprentices have a long history of reaching the highest leadership positions at BAE Systems. For instance, the managing director of our military aircraft business began his career as an apprentice.”

BAE is placing particular emphasis on the recruitment of women into apprenticeship roles.

Throughout 2014, the company’s representatives have toured Essex schools under the banner of the Your Life campaign, designed to encourage more girls to take up engineering careers.

Mr Hamer said: “In 2014, 17 per cent of BAE’s apprentice intake was female. We are hoping an even higher proportion of women will join in 2015. BAE Systems is completely committed to increasing the diversity of its apprentice intake.”
BAE’s apprentice programme has one of the highest completion rates in the engineering sector.

It was voted “outstanding” by Ofsted in 2010. Other accolades include the National Apprentice Award the Year in 2013, for engineering trainee Sally Topping.
Selex ES, the Basildon-based branch of European defence giant Finnmeccanica, has also embarked on a major local recruitment programme. It has ten apprenticeship opportunities at Basildon.

Selex spokesman John Stephenson said: “We have invested heavily in our technical, software, manufacturing, business and secretarial apprenticeships, which combine hands-on training with day release.

“The company has a retention rate that has seen 95 per cent of UK apprentices stay with the company at the end of their schemes.

Selex Basildon is a leading centre of expertise on thermal imaging and electronic warfare defence. Anyone interested in an apprenticeship with the company can attend one of the initial assessment days, scheduled for February 4, March 25, and March 26.

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