BARROW'S biggest employer wants homegrown talent to lead the way following the official opening of a multimillion pound training academy.

The state-of-the-art £25m training academy covering 89,340 sq ft was officially opened yesterday (Dec 6) by The Secretary of State for Defence, Gavin Williamson.

This pioneering project was built to develop world-class engineering skills required to design, build and deliver complex submarine programmes as well as providing bespoke training to almost 9,000 employees, including nearly 800 apprentices.

Mr Williamson told The Mail: "BAE is investing massively in apprenticeships, trying to make sure that they have the right skills to do this major national infrastructure investment, which is the Dreadnought Submarines.

"And actually the release of this next phase, the release of the next £400 million, the naming of HMS Valiant are all signs of our confidence in what the people of Barrow can do and what they can deliver and actually the great prospects and the great future that the town has.

"This is about investing in skills, it's about investing in the people of Barrow."

MP John Woodcock said: "It is great to see this, I mean this is a symbol, but also will genuinely make the reality of decades of training for our young people.

"I thought it was fascinating that Cliff Robson said when we first came in that this is a facility that will not only serve Dreadnought, but will serve what comes after Dreadnought.

"Ninety percent of the workforce is local, which is an extraordinary achievement, but it also shows the responsibility that we have as a community for the whole of the nation and in fact the whole of NATO given that the submarines that are built here will be part of the NATO umbrella of protection for many other nations.

"It shows the responsibility on individuals, but also the responsibility on our education system to make sure that we are equipping young people coming through, some of whom would not have yet been born who are going to work on the Dreadnought programme equipping them with the very best skills to be able to make what is the most complex and advanced manufacturing enterprise in the entire world."

Cliff Robson, managing director of BAE Systems Submarines, said: "Education in Barrow is critically important for us to build submarines, the majority of our employees are literally within a few miles of the sight. Within that catchment area we can pull the best. "We want the young people of Barrow to know that they can be involved in something like the design and the building of the Dreadnought submarine and potentially the next generation of submarines.

"The Dreadnought programme will take us all the way out to 2035 and the next generation submarines. If we are successful it should take us out to 2049, so this investment is for the long term, this is a 20, 30 year investment to make sure that we have the right people training to the right standard."