The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has announced an extra £400m of spending for its submarine programme to safeguard 8,000 jobs across the supply chain.
Defence secretary Gavin Williamson also unveiled a £25m BAE Systems academy at Barrow-in-Furness for training the next generation of submarine engineers.
The Submarine Academy for Skills and Knowledge is designed to supply 2,500 people a month, including 600 apprentices, to support work on the Dreadnought and Astute nuclear submarine programmes.
Williamson said: “This £400m investment will ensure the Dreadnought programme remains on track. Not only does today’s news see us safeguard 8,000 jobs right now, but I have also opened a brand new multi-million-pound facility to train Britain’s submarine engineers of the future.”
Significant action is underway to transform the UK government defence supply chain and provide visible opportunities to SMEs.
The UK government showcased its focus on furthering its network of small defence companies at the recent Transforming the Defence Supply Chain Commons event. The minister for defence procurement, Stuart Andrew, said: “It’s about driving innovation. Some of the best ideas that come out of our defence and security accelerator initiative so far have been in logistics and supply.”
The long-term government Industrial Strategy plan, launched in December 2017, supports the initiative to steadily build opportunities for SMEs to access the public defence sector. This includes new requirements for the defence Contract Finder to give SMEs equal access to advertisements valued at £25,000 or above, and the Defence Logistic Commodities & Services Transformation (LCST) 13-year contract signed with Leidos in 2015.
The government has increased visibility of subcontracting opportunities through the Contract Finder online platform. According to a Procurement Policy Note in May, 63% of the 25,000 entities registered with the Contract Finder website are SMEs.
A March 2016 government report on spending with SMEs stated that “over 25% of its spending reached SMEs in 2014-15. It now aims to increase this to 33% by 2020”.
Cliff Robson, managing director of BAE Systems Submarines, said: “Our investment in skills will not only ensure we have a pipeline of world-class talent available to deliver our complex programmes, but will also positively contribute to the economic prosperity of the region and the UK’s engineering industry.”
☛ Want to stay up to date with the news? Sign up to our daily bulletin.