The new programme, developed by Cranfield University, starts in March 2022 and will play a key role in building a network of sustainability champions across the Company who will help to drive progress towards its net zero target.

Karin Hoeing, Group Human Resources and Health, Safety & Environment Director at BAE Systems, said: “Investing in this new apprenticeship programme will help us to build a community of sustainability experts with the skills to make sure we play our role in tackling the climate crisis and respond to the sustainability challenges and opportunities of the future.

“We’re committed to embedding sustainability at the heart of our business as we drive forward our ambition to achieve net zero, but we can’t do this alone. So, we’re collaborating with our suppliers, customers, partners and academia to innovate for a net zero future and ensure that we remain at the forefront of developing sustainable technologies to support our customers for decades to come.”

Laura Lake, one of the Company’s new apprentices based at its Submarines business in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, said: “I’m pleased that I have the opportunity to make a real difference in this role. I’m an advocate for positive change and believe our actions matter - decisions we make today will impact future generations, so our impacts must be positive and delivered with integrity.

“I’m looking forward to using my knowledge and learning from my studies to help shape our approach and deliver our sustainability goals across the business.”

Minister for Skills Alex Burghart, said: “It is fantastic to see BAE Systems investing in the talent of tomorrow through the power of apprenticeships. Apprenticeships are creating the skilled workforce businesses need to reach net zero and helping people get the skills they need for the green jobs of the future."

Dr Kenisha Garnett, Lecturer in Decision Science at Cranfield School of Water, Energy and Environment, said: “With the eyes of the world on the UK during COP26, sustainability is at the forefront of the minds of government and business. We hear a lot about the technological gains we need to achieve net zero but equally important are the skills that we will need to get there. We stand on the edge of an explosion in green jobs as sectors such as the energy, aviation and construction industries rapidly transition to a more sustainable and resilient future.”

BAE Systems has set a target to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions across its operations by 2030 and across the value chain by 2050 and earlier this year, joined the United Nations’ Race to Zero campaign. In order to achieve these goals, the Company is investing in low to zero energy carbon products and renewable energy solutions, supporting supply chains to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pioneering new technologies to help customers move towards net zero.

Over the next two years, students will undertake a range of modules including sustainability principles, leading a sustainable business, performance management and reporting. In addition to their academic study, the apprentices will undertake a series of work placements across the organisation to put their knowledge into practice as they play a key role in delivering the Company’s roadmap to net zero.

Students completing the programme will achieve a Sustainability Business Specialist Apprenticeship, including a Master’s degree in Sustainability and professional recognition as a Registered Environmental Practitioner and Practitioner Member of the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment.

Reflecting the Company’s commitment to continually develop its employees’ skills throughout their careers, the first ten apprentices to undertake the programme are employees from across its UK businesses, including in Scotland as well as the North West and South East of England. The Company aims to increase the number and level of sustainability apprenticeships, opening them up to new starters in the future, as it continues to attract and recruit new talent.