I spent most of the day at Lockheed Martin at Ampthill, one of the leading defence and aerospace companies in the world, and very important to our whole region. They employ over 2000 people in the UK, almost half of which are at the Ampthill site – including over two dozen constituents.
I was very impressed with the attitude, people and approach to training the next generation that I found. They understand the crucial importance that the defence industry plays in Britain, not just for our armed forces, but also in providing high quality and high paying engineering jobs in our region. They are committed to taking apprentices every year (some of whom I met), as well as graduates, and were very clear with me that they want to keep growing home-grown talent locally – they have doubled their workforce over the past 5 years alone.
In addition to touring around the factory floor (and seeing the development of the upgraded Warrior tank), I spent a few hours in substantive discussions with the management team, and in particular we discussed how the British government can adjust its defence procurement approach in a more strategic direction – which would lead to a stronger armed forces and more high quality local jobs. I am meeting the Defence Secretary to discuss these topics further.
It was a great pleasure to finish off the day having lunch with several employees (of all levels) who are also constituents – and to hear what it is really like from the horses’ mouth!