Almost 400 apprentices will start their career at BAE Systems in Barrow, as the company reveals its record recruitment drive.

The firm has 800 apprenticeships on offer across its business – with 364 at the Cumbrian shipyard.

More than 9,000 people across the UK applied and despite the coronavirus lockdown, BAE Systems has pressed on with the recruitment process, including virtual interviews, to whittle down the applications to a 2,000-strong shortlist.

Charles Woodburn, chief executive of BAE Systems, said: “Getting people back to work and creating new jobs, especially for younger people, is a national priority and we’re pleased to play our part in supporting the UK’s economic recovery.

"The contribution apprentices make to our business is vital in maintaining our ability to continue to deliver cutting edge technologies which protect national security.

"We’ve worked hard to adapt our application and training processes to allow education to continue, while protecting the health and wellbeing of our employees and new recruits.”

The successful applicants will begin their careers from September.

Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education, said: “It is brilliant to see BAE Systems’ continued support for apprenticeships, recognising the hard work, skills and value that apprentices bring to a world-leading British company.

“BAE Systems’ recruitment of 800 apprentices is yet more evidence that apprenticeships are an excellent choice for young people and shows that they are an excellent route into a wide range of high-quality and exciting careers.

"I am certain that apprenticeships will play a vital role in our economic recovery from coronavirus.

“I’d like to wish all of those who applied the best of luck and to thank BAE Systems for their ongoing commitment to invest in their next generation of highly skilled staff.”

The firm has already introduced a new graduate programme and said it was committed to recruit around 250 graduates between September and June 2021.