Lancashire aerospace giant BAE Systems has been praised for helping to make the North West the country’s leading region for apprenticeships.
Latest Government figures show the economy grew by 0.8 per cent between July and September, and the success of apprenticeship schemes is being highlighted as contributing to the upturn.
Overall, unemployment in the North West has fallen over the past three years, including a 1.7 per cent drop for the under 25s, with 3.2 million now employed in the region. A total of 249,860 people in the North West have also received apprenticeship training since 2010 – making up more than a sixth of all the apprentices in England.
BAE Systems has 663 apprentices in training in the North West, including 224 at its Military Air and Information sites at Warton and Samlesbury and 439 at its submarines site in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria.
All of the apprentices study NVQ-level qualifications and nearly 15,000 people applied for the 83 apprenticeship vacancies the company had to fill in 2013.
This year BAE Systems, which employs 13,500 around the word, is also involved in the Employee Ownership Pilot and is currently training 21 apprentices who will go on to work for supply chain businesses.
Chris Boardman, managing director of BAE Systems Military Air and Information, said: “I believe there is nothing better than an apprenticeship for giving people the right skills to do the job. It gives our young people a great foundation in life. Every time I meet an apprentice, I am always proud of not just the skills we give people but the ability for them to stand out in society.
“They speak with confidence and deal with issues and I think a lot of that comes from what they get from trainers and the people who help give them these skills.”
The North West is home to 480,515 private sector businesses and more than 1,000 start-up loans have been awarded at a total value of £6.2 million – the highest number of any English region.