AEROSPACE giant BAE Systems has opened its £15.6million training centre in Samlesbury.

The Academy for Skills and Knowledge is located at the company’s Aerospace Enterprise Zone and will train all the apprentices and graduates.

The building will also act as a collaborative skills hub for the North West’s engineering sector and will offer education sessions for five- to 14-year-old schoolchildren.

Chris Boardman, managing director of BAE Systems Military Air & Information, said: “The Academy for Skills and Knowledge is the single biggest investment in skills in the aerospace industry and offers an unrivalled modern engineering and manufacturing environment in which BAE Systems can deliver the highest quality training.

“We are committed to playing our part in developing skills for the future, for our business, those in our supply chain and in education.

“In our experience, well-trained people are both socially mobile and very productive, which in turn generates economic wealth for the UK.” The protect has taken three years to build from scratch and features 26 modern classroom facilities.

Technology used at the at centre which apprentices and school guests will have access to include robotics, 3D printers, a virtual reality cave and electronic and welding facilities.

Florence Morgan from Blackburn, who finished her apprenticeship at BAE in July, said she was jealous of the facilities new recruits will get to use.

The 18-year-old said: “It was amazing working here, there was lots of options and they gave you experience in different business situations.

“These new facilities are amazing. I’m really jealous of the apprentices who will get to train in this one.”

Education manager, Julia Connolly, said: “We have a room full of technology designed for employees and schools to come in to these situations and learn. It’s really got that inclusive environment for people to use the activities like the 3D printing.

The launch of the centre was marked by an open day for teachers, councillors and past BAE apprentices.

The academy was opened by Jason Bradbury, presenter of TV’s The Gadget Show. He said: “It’s really great to see how so many will benefit from the new academy, helping to both excite and inspire the next generation to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and maths.”

“I just wish I was young enough to enrol myself.”