British defence giant BAE Systems is to recruit a record 568 apprentices in 2014, including in Barrow-in-Furness, to build the next generation of nuclear submarines.
The Government-backed scheme will take on 181 more people than last year across its 16 sites as the company races to meet what it calls “the largest workload for two decades”.
Positions start in September 2014 and last 42 months, with an average salary of around £14,000 and a guaranteed job at the end.
Group managing director Nigel Whitehead said: “Apprentices are a vital part of our talent pool.
“Our additional intake of apprentices this year reflects workload requirements at the submarines business but the number also demonstrates the fantastic contribution and value that apprenticeships bring to BAE Systems.
“This is a win-win situation for our apprentices, our company and the wider economy.”
Ninety-four apprentices will design and build military aircraft in Lancashire and Yorkshire, with 48 joining the Aircraft Maintenance Academy in Doncaster.
More than half of the roles are at a submarine yard in Barrow-in-Furness, where BAE is building seven new Astute class attack submarines for the Royal Navy and designing a successor to the UK’s Trident missile system.
Each Astute class sub weighs 7,000 tonnes and costs between £747m and £1,160 m to build.
Another 100 will join shipbuilding and maintenance teams in Portsmouth and Glasgow.
Other roles will go to the company’s electronics arm in Rochester, its combat vehicles station in Telford, and munitions factories in Cheshire, Tyneside and South Wales.
Apprenticeships came under fire in 2012 when education company Zenos - receiving £45.5m in public funds - was asked to put its courses under review, triggering fears that too many schemes lacked adequate training and did not lead to guaranteed jobs.
But BAE says around half the senior executives in its military aircraft wing - which employs 15,000 of its 32,000 UK staff - found their feet as apprentices, including managing director Chris Boardman.
The latest Ofsted report, published in 2010, said: “Learners’ progression into employment and higher education is outstanding.
In the last three years 96 per cent of learners have remained in employment with the company, usually in their placement of choice.
“Learners progress well within their job roles and a significant number of ex-apprentices are managers and senior staff in the company.”