Blackpool South MP and Shadow Skills Minister Gordon Marsden met apprentices at BAE Systems at its £15.3m training centre.
He was given a tour of the Academy for Skills and Knowledge in Samlesbury as part of his work countrywide for National Apprenticeships Week, by David Holmes, BAE’s Manufacturing Operations Director.
He was shown the cutting edge facilities which mirror the factory layouts at BAE systems.
It uses the latest technologies in advance manufacturing – including robotics, 3D printing and a virtual reality “cave”, which Gordon experienced for himself, which allows the user in a virtual aeroplane environment to explore and solve problems.
He then had a Q&A session with a group of apprentices both male and female doing a variety of different courses run by the company.
A full-size Hawk Jet was also on display at the academy to show the apprentices what they can also aspire to.
He said: “It is an exciting time to be a BAE apprentice with the training and opportunities available to them at the academy.
“From chatting to some of the apprentices, it is clear that they are getting an all-around experience with a combination of theoretical and practical skills on their courses.
“Both as Shadow Skills Minister but also as a Lancashire MP for nearly 20 years, I have always known how committed BAE has been to education and learning.
“But also how they and the businesses locally as part of their supply chain, are crucial to offering good jobs and careers to people in Blackpool and the on Fylde Coast.
“This significant investment in the academy at the Samlesbury Enterprise Zone further demonstrates this commitment to skills and training for the next generation, as well as their involvement with both Lancashire County Council, Blackpool Council and also the Local Enterprise Partnership.”
Gordon, who has been taking through the new Technical and Further Education Bill for Labour in Parliament, said one of the firm’s successes over the years had been training surplus apprentices which meant other companies in the wider supply chain and sector had the skills they needed in the long term.
In 2017, BAE, will take on 574 apprentices across the country, one in five of whom will be in Lancashire.