Defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon says "Barrow is leading the way" in British industry and apprenticeship training as Barrow shipyard announced a £25m new training facility.
Sir Michael was at BAE Systems Submarines in Barrow on Monday, February 20 meeting apprentices as the company spoke about its new super training hub which is set to open next year.
The new centre, which will be sited off Buccleuch Dock Road, will include a teaching block, classrooms, offices, craft workshops and welfare facilities.
The facility, which is being funded through BAE Systems investment, plans to include to-scale submarine mock-up sections which will allow apprentices to gain hands-on experience in a controlled environment and help them develop skills working to the tolerances required to build submarines.
Barrow shipyard has just under 1,000 apprentices and it is expected to recruit more than 200 more this year.
BAE Systems Submarines is building the last four Astute class submarines and then the four Dreadnought class submarines. Both types of submarine are destined for the Royal Navy with work on the Dreadnought programme expected to continue well into the 2030s.
Speaking in Devonshire Dock Hall, where Audacious, Anson and Agamemnon - the fourth, fifth and sixth of seven Astute class nuclear-powered submarines - are under construction, Sir Michael said: "Barrow is leading British industry here. The apprentices I've talked to have been selected by BAE Systems to work on these submarines, and to have a £25m training facility, I can't recall visiting a British company which is investing so heavily and that of course is driven by our own £178m investment in defence equipment.
"It is great to see and you see no stronger supporters of the submarine programme than those apprentices. They are great, I'm so proud of them. They are committed to this programme, with Astute and Dreadnought taken together, the apprentices working on the fourth Dreadnought haven't been born yet. This is a long-term investment in the skills the submarine programme needs.
"Barrow is leading the way in giving school leavers that highly-skilled high-tech career that they are entitled to."
Tony Johns, managing director of BAE Systems Submarines said the Central Training Facility will focus on deepening submarine specific skills.
Mr Johns said the company will continue to work with Furness College, which he said provides a "great service" for the academic training and the basic skills training of the BAE apprentices.
He said: "We are massively committed to the local area. We recognise that we need to take an awful lot of people from the local area, that is great for us, and it's great for the local community.
"We want people to stay with us over a long period of time.
"I think this shipyard, in the various guises it has had over the years, has always invested in its young people. It has had its downturns, if the work is not there the investment is not there, but at the moment we are riding high on the fact we have some big programmes to deliver.
"I have seen some fantastic young people, with really great skills, huge enthusiasm and commitment. We are very proud to have them and I hope they have long and successful careers.
"I hope one of them one day will do my job. I like to think we can invest in those people and that they can have very successful long term careers with us."
The Central Training Facility will also provide training and up-skilling opportunities for the shipyard's workforce.
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