BAE Systems has opened its £15.6 million training academy at Samlesbury, Lancashire, in order to create a pipeline of talent that can meet the future technical demands of its military aircraft business.
The Academy for Skills and Knowledge (ASK) marks the single largest investment in skills for the UK’s aerospace sector to date. Designed and built over the past three years, the 7,400m2 building is situated on the Samlesbury Aerospace Enterprise Zone alongside BAE System’s military aircraft advanced manufacturing centre.
It will train all the apprentices and graduates in the BAE’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 ASK will also act as a collaborative skills-hub for the North West’s engineering and manufacturing sector and offer Stem resources for school children from five to 14 years old.
BAE Systems said that the technology in the ASK “mirrors the latest advanced manufacturing technologies and factory layouts” used at its own sites around the UK. This includes 3D printers, a manufacturing Kuka robot cell, a composites clean room, as well as a virtual reality ‘cave’ to train apprentices using immersive simulations that include viewing wiring on a military jet.
In early 2017 the academy’s hangar will accommodate a full size Hawk jet for apprentices to understand the ‘engineering complexity and build of an aircraft’ first hand.
Chris Boardman, managing director of BAE Systems military air and information, said that the ASK offers “an unrivalled modern engineering and manufacturing environment in which BAE Systems can deliver the highest quality training”.
Northern Powerhouse minister Andrew Percy added: “Northern businesses have stablished 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.”