A LEADING industrialist has sparked a a debate on developing the future of engineering.

Lord John Browne, ex-CEO of BP, used the backdrop of the Tempest concept aircraft at BAE to issue a rallying call for "creativity and boldness" in the field.

The author of the book Make, Think, Imagine, was speaking after it emerged how nearly 250 apprentices have begun their career paths at BAE in Samlesbury, Warton and Lincolnshire.

This is double the number the company took on over the previous 12 months.

The peer was joined on stage at Warton by Dave Holmes, the aerospace firm's manufacturing director for air, who related how many every-day technologies and systems could traced back to engineering innovations.

Andrew Kennedy, the firm's campaigns director, also discussed how Tempest, a joint project with Leonardo, MBDA and Rolls-Royce, would "bring engineering to life" for the next generation of apprentices.

Samlesbury's aerospace development zone will soon be home to the region's advanced manufacturing centre.

Nearly 250 apprentices have started their careers in BAE Systems’ Air business in the North.

The company has recruited double the number of new starters it took on 12 months previously and they will now begin roles at its sites in Warton and Samlesbury, Lancashire and at its Aircraft Maintenance Academy at Humberside Airport, Lincolnshire.

They include apprentices studying higher and degree level apprenticeships in a range of schemes including software and aerospace engineering, technical and craft production and vital support roles including finance and project management.

During their careers, many apprentices will be working on programmes including Typhoon and F-35, which make up the frontline of the Royal Air Force’s fleet, and on technologies which will become part of the next generation of combat aircraft