British multinational defence, security and aerospace company BAE Systems has unveiled plans to hire 1,250 trainees next year despite the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

The recruitment drive, which will include 850 apprenticeships and 400 graduate roles, represents the highest number of trainees the company has ever hired in a single year.

Recruits will receive the opportunity to become associated with key defence programmes in the UK, including Tempest and Dreadnought projects, which involve developing next-generation combat aircraft and submarines for the armed forces respectively.

Around 75% of apprenticeships and more than 50% of graduate roles will be based in the north of England.

BAE Systems CEO Charles Woodburn said: “Getting people back to work and creating high-quality jobs is a national priority. So, it’s more important than ever that those of us who are in a position to do so continue our investment in the UK workforce.

“We’re fortunate that our business is based on long-term critical defence programmes, giving us the confidence to increase our apprentice and graduate recruitment to create a strong talent pipeline, which enables us to continue delivering cutting-edge technologies, whilst playing a role in supporting the UK’s economic recovery.”

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BAE Systems recently secured a £2.4bn munitions contract from the UK Ministry of Defence. The contract requires the company to continue providing munitions products and engineering support to the armed forces.

The contract will support around 4,000 jobs across the country.