BAE Systems is throwing open its doors to engineering companies from across the Solent region, offering them the opportunity to train their apprentices at the Skills Development Centre at Portsmouth Naval Base.
Local companies can now send their apprentices to be trained shoulder-to-shoulder with Royal Navy and BAE Systems employees,.
BAE Systems Maritime Services has been able to offer this facility after taking its training fully in-house for the first time in 40 years.
Previously, though apprentices had access to hands-on training within the Skills Development Centre and by working on projects on warships and at the Naval Base, they attended college once a week for lessons and exams.
“It’s the first time we’ve had a fully accredited and dedicated training centre for apprenticeships since the old dockyard technical college was demolished in about 1975,” said BAE Systems head of early careers Matt Gordon.
He added: “Not only will it benefit our apprentices to have their training in one place, but this now means we can help other companies in the local area invest in the STEM skills that are so vital for our industry’s longevity.”
The centre is opening its doors to external companies looking to get their apprentices through Level 3 Technician, Level 4 Higher, Level 6 Project Management or Level 7 engineering qualifications.
As well as getting to grips with the rudiments of welding, fabrication, electrical and mechanical skills in the purpose built workshops, apprentices can be monitored in their own workplace by the centre’s team of in-house assessors.
“It’s brilliant. It’s the best training you can get and it shows in the calibre of the apprentices,” said Luke Fitzgerald, director of engineering company Hythe Marine Services.
“The standard of training and the equipment apprentices use is way above the norm. Me and most of the management team here were trained in the dockyard and we’ve never looked back.”
Hythe Marine Services apprentices Jordan Cooper, 19, from Chichester, and Conor Green, 20, from Portsmouth, are about to start the final year of their apprenticeships.
“The Skills Development Centre is great because it’s really hands on,” said Jordan, who’s training to be a machine fitter and turner.
Pipefitter and welder Conor Green agreed. “We’re already trusted to work on our own, even though we’ve got another year to go, which adds to the learning experience,” he added.
As another former dockyard apprentice himself, Paul Harris, managing director of Waterlooville-based engineering company ICEE, is impressed with the facilities and training BAE Systems provides at Portsmouth Naval Base.
“The first few months of working in the naval base environment is an ideal start for any engineering apprentice,” he said.
“The training that both of our apprentices have received has been exemplary and we’ll definitely continue to send our apprentices to BAE Systems.”