The £25m Submarines Academy for Skills and Knowledge is marking its first birthday having cemented its place as a crucial economic asset in South Cumbria.
Funded by BAE Systems Submarines at its site in Barrow, the facility has provided thousands of hours in training both to apprentices and to experienced employees aiming to upskill.
The investment in such an ambitious learning environment is seen as vital in equipping the Barrow workforce to deliver the Royal Navy submarines of the future.
Academy Principal Janet Garner said: “The Submarines Academy is playing a key role in helping to lay foundations for the future of our shipyard by changing the way we develop our future workforce in our early careers community – who are the lifeblood of our business.
“Alongside that, upskilling our current workforce means the committed and talented people we employ are equipped to tackle the ongoing challenges of submarine design and manufacture.”
Five submarines are currently in-build at Barrow; the four remaining Astute-class hunter-killer submarines and the first-of-class Dreadnought, which will carry the UK’s nuclear deterrent.
BAE Systems and the MOD know how crucial it is for the Barrow workforce to be the best trained in the world as they engage in the most complex engineering project in the world today.
The Academy, opened by the then Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson in December 2018, delivers a range of training, from mechanical and electrical skills to design and project management. It also includes facilities such as the virtual reality training suite which allows employees to hone their skills on a virtual submarine, before working on the real product.
At a glance, the Academy boasts:
- Craft training areas for 10 trade groups to provide submarine process skills training for crafts and apprentices.
- Two Mock-up Areas for Build Delivery Integrated Work Teams and Test and Commissioning
- Craft Training Rooms and a VR suite
- Technical Training Room
- 17 Shared Learning rooms with syndicate rooms to centralise all short course training
- Coaching rooms (one to one development discussions)
- Education outreach hub
- Heritage centre
- Open access to breakout areas
- Digital media / green room
In its first 12 months the Academy has:
- Hit 65% operating capacity (exceeding the first year target of 60%)
- Delivered 8,811 hours of face-to-face learning interventions
- Successfully helped 96 employees through the company’s Leadership programme (called Subs Way)
- Put more than 3,500 hours of engagement back to the local community through outreach programmes offering Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths sessions for local schools and colleges
- Welcomed more than 1,000 Cumbrian schoolchildren through its doors to give them an insight into the Submarines business