The Defence Growth Partnership's Defence Enterprise Export Programme (DEEP) was announced at DSEI 2017 and launched at Farnborough International Airshow in July.
It aims to cultivate more export specialists in the UK defence industry.
The programme offers a career pathway and a secondment and loan model that enables individuals to move between firms and roles in order to build key skills and experience, and benefit from mentoring opportunities.
There’s also an academic pathway in the form of an Executive MBA which has been developed in partnership with Cranfield University. Through the Cranfield programme, delegates will study towards an industry-accredited Executive MBA, as well as a Postgraduate Certificate in Defence Export.
Allan Cook, Industrial Co-Chair, Defence Growth Partnership, told FINN: “Everybody recognises that we've got a skills shortage within the UK. That's not just in defence, but it's across the engineering side. And we all talk about engineers and why we need more engineers. But we also need people who can construct, coordinate and compete on export programmes and contracts so that we can deal with the right terms and conditions. And that's what's DEEP's all about.”
Cook said that UK defence exports are “huge” for the UK economy.
“It’s a huge part of the GDP,” he said.
On a rolling 10-year basis, the UK remains the second largest global defence exporter. In 2017, the UK won defence orders worth £9 billion, up on the previous year’s £5.9 billion.
Cook added, though, that DEEP it’s important for the UK skill base too. “They're doing really, really important work. They're designing, they're developing, they're producing, they're testing work capability services that we need, not only in the UK but actually in the export market too,” he said.
Leaving a legacy
Cook highlighted that DEEP is aiming to create a legacy.
He noted the recent launch of the the Tempest fighter, saying: “This is the next generation of combat air. This is going to stretch out for the next 20, 30, 40, 50 years. We're trying to build the future for a generation of school kids that probably have no idea what's involved. But we're trying to inspire them, we're trying to motivate them, we're trying to retrain, we're trying to actually get them to be really, really interested across all the social aspects – young people, boys, girls, ethnic minorities, disabilities, LGBT. All of these people – we need their skills. And DEEP is an integral part of what we're trying to do here."