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Investing in national security to drive national prosperity

Tania Gandamihardja, Group Human Resources Director at BAE Systems | BAE Systems Plc

3 min read Partner content

In a world of growing instability and geopolitical threats, our armed forces and security services are working hard to keep us safe. They rely on people across the country who are pushing the boundaries of defence technology to provide a critical advantage.

Our work to maintain and deliver sovereign capability is a truly national endeavour, supporting more than 132,000 jobs from Glasgow to Kent on some of the world’s most advanced technology programmes, from submarines and combat aircraft to satellites and cyber defence.

This work, and the economic benefits it brings, is dependent on a pipeline of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) talent which is outstripped by demand.

It’s a challenge facing a range of sectors and one which government, industry and academia must address together. Fortunately, we’re already making progress and defence can provide a blueprint for the collaboration we need.

Government investment in programmes such as Typhoon and Tempest provide companies like ours, and the thousands more in our supply chain, with a long-term outlook and the confidence to make the levels of investment the UK needs to bolster its skilled workforce and fund the R&D which keeps us at the leading edge.

At BAE Systems, we invested around £180m on education, skills and training in 2023, continuing our work to deliver STEM education at all levels and help make careers in STEM accessible for everyone.

This starts by working closely with schools, colleges and universities across the UK, introducing the next generation to the exciting possibilities a career in STEM can offer, with a focus on encouraging young people from under-represented groups.

As one of Britain’s largest early careers employers, we hope that many will go on to join us; this year alone we’ll recruit around 2,700 apprentices and graduates, including systems and software engineers as well as the UK’s first ever space engineer degree apprentices.

This helps us to maintain a healthy pipeline of talent, drawing on all parts of society to help bridge the tech skills gap: last year, more than a quarter of our apprentice intake in England came from disadvantaged communities and female applications for this year’s schemes have risen by 83%.

It’s just as important to provide opportunities for people who haven’t taken a traditional route into STEM or want to return after a career break.

For ten years, we’ve worked with Movement to Work to provide work experience for young people not in education or training, giving them the foundation to take the first steps in their careers. For people hoping to re-join the STEM workforce, our partnership with STEM Returners delivers 12-week placements to help refresh their skills, expand their CV and learn from an industry mentor.

As we look to the future, the UK’s continued investment in sovereign capability will help safeguard critical jobs and ensure worldleading expertise is passed on to the next generation in the numbers we need to bridge the skills gap. The Dreadnought submarine programme alone will support almost 30,000 jobs at its peak and thousands of apprentices will learn their trade building the boats, leaving a lasting economic legacy.

As the UK navigates an increasingly uncertain world, the role of defence in protecting national security and economic prosperity has never been more apparent. By working closely together and with clear demand signals from government, we can continue taking the steps we need to invest in people, technology and support long-term growth.

See here for more information about BAE Systems’ contribution to the UK


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