All hands on deck with BAE Systems to defend the planet from climate change

Focused on achieving net zero emissions across its operations by 2030, BAE Systems is also launching a series of educational green initiatives involving local schoolchildren with the aim of engaging and inspiring the next generation of Scottish engineers, reveals Ann Wallace

INSPIRING young minds is at the heart of a new initiative from BAE Systems in Glasgow as the company aims to ‘embed sustainability’ into its projects and programmes.

Kyle McFarlane, a Graduate Project Manager working within the ship build delivery team in Govan, explains: “As part of my role, I am project managing an engineering innovation challenge with direct links to Glasgow and the River Clyde.


“A team of graduates, apprentices and senior engineers from multiple disciplines in both Scotland and England, with support from senior management, is working on designing a dredger to clean the river of litter and we hope to have the community and local schools involved with a working model built in time for COP26.”

He adds: “As a business, BAE Systems is focussed on reducing the impact of our activities and products on the environment.

“This is a real opportunity to demonstrate how seriously we are taking our responsibility to play a role in our community and how we are taking very practical steps to address this in a very practical way, with a project closely linked to both the Clyde and the city.”
The team has come up with two designs, as Kyle explains.

“One is static, based at the side of the river, with booms either side directing the rubbish on to a conveyer belt and into a skip,” he says. “The other is more of a ‘hungry hippo’ style, moving about on the river collecting debris.”

Primary schools in the Glasgow area will be invited to submit their own designs, to create a name and a logo for the vessel and to build their own model.

“We want them to think about how it looks, how it is powered, what it’s made from and how it will collect and dispose of rubbish,” says Kyle.

“There are lots of links to the curriculum, through things like design, STEM and scientific principles and we’re excited to hear their ideas. 

He adds: “COP26 is a big thing for Glasgow and for Scotland and we are very passionate about the part we can play in it.

“By involving local schoolchildren in ‘cleaning the Clyde’, we can hopefully engage and inspire the next generation of engineers.”

Inspiring the next generation is at the heart of the company’s comprehensive early careers programme.

More than 400 BAE Systems employees working in science, technology, engineering and maths -related jobs are trained STEM Ambassadors who offer their expertise to inspire young people and bring to life the value of STEM subjects in careers and the wider world.

Through the Government’s Kickstart scheme, the company has offered six-month job placements to dozens of young people across the UK and BAE Systems is also a leading member of the youth unemployment scheme Movement to Work, which offers quality work experience placements to young people who are Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET), giving them the skills and confidence to take the first steps into their careers.

Education Partnership Advisor Rosie Mackay explains that BAE Systems also works closely with local schools on a range of activities, introducing more young people to STEM-related careers through roadshows, work experience initiatives and virtual careers events.


“We are taking part in Developing Young Workforce Live, a collaboration between Education Scotland, e-Sgoil, and the DYW Scotland Regional Groups which aims to help young people develop skills for the future,” she says. “It’s a fantastic programme which shows value of online learning and how schools can connect with businesses like ours for valuable careers advice.”

More than 300 sessions were delivered as part of the DYW Live programme to around 30,000 young people last year, and the 2021-22 programme will now involve Career Long Professional Learning for teachers and a full complement of workshops and sessions provided by 26 different organisations, including BAE Systems.

Rosie adds: “It’s a great curriculum-based way for school pupils to learn about employability skills.

“There are so many opportunities within early careers at BAE Systems – it’s fantastic that the company offers employees space to take on innovation challenges and we want to weave sustainability through everything we do.”

The firm recently announced the target to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions across its operations by 2030 and across the value chain by 2050, and has started reducing emissions at its sites across the UK through the use of solar panels and other renewable energy sources.

More efficient, cutting-edge manufacturing technologies such as augmented reality and artificial intelligence are also being used to improve operational efficiency while reducing carbon emissions.

The company has joined the United Nations’ Race to Zero campaign, by signing up to the Business Ambition for 1.5°C which commits businesses to set targets aligned with the Paris Agreement to limit global warming.

The company recently announced a partnership with Fuel Change Challenge 2, a platform to help create a low carbon environment, to challenge young people from across Scotland to use their skills and ingenuity to help lower the carbon footprint of its shipyards in Glasgow.

BAE Systems is asking teams of apprentices from companies across Scotland to develop innovative and practical ways to upgrade its buildings – some of which are now more than 100 years old.

Rosie explains: “Eight BAE Systems apprentices took part in the Fuel Change challenge, and they worked on a proposal which would involve recycling decommissioned aircraft into miniature wind turbines, reducing waste and providing clean energy.

“With support from the company the team are turning their proposal into reality, designing two prototype turbines which will then be produced and tested at the Scotstoun and Govan sites.”

She added: “They are also looking at other ideas, such as ‘clean energy’ from the river, which would not only support the shipyards but local industry and the community too.

“These projects are great examples of team-working that can help deliver new skills, develop the young workforce and engage local people and the school community.”

Kyle McFarlane agrees. “With our Clean the Clyde project, it’s great to get the chance to inspire young children to be aware of the environment around them,” he says. “It’s everyone’s planet, we only get  one shot at it and we all have a part to play.”


Effort to clean up Clyde reflects positively on firm

TACKLING the problem of marine litter has to start on land, according to naval shipbuilding company BAE Systems which is setting up ‘clean-up hubs’ in communities close to its Glasgow yards.

The company, which has bases in Govan and Scotstoun on the River Clyde, is teaming up with charity Keep Scotland Beautiful as part of the latter’s award winning campaign Upstream Battle. 

Barry Fisher, Chief Executive of Keep Scotland Beautiful, said: “We are delighted to welcome BAE Systems on board as a supporter of Upstream Battle – it is great to have the support of an iconic Glasgow business and employer. 

“Eighty percent of marine litter starts life on land, so we all need to do more to tackle litter at source and prevent it getting into our waterways, seas and oceans.  

“And with COP26 coming to Glasgow in November, this is an ideal opportunity to raise the profile of the challenges associated with marine litter and place this firmly in the context of the climate emergency.”

Paul Feely, Engineering Director, BAE Systems, Naval Ships, said: “Sustainability is important to us and as a responsible company we are working hard to reduce our impact on the environment.  BAE Systems recently announced a target to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions across our operations by 2030 and across our value chain by 2050, and more locally we want to reduce the problem of marine litter in our local communities and our waterways, such as the River Clyde.”


He added: “We’re excited to be working with Keep Scotland Beautiful, supporting the communities that we’re a part of, to establish two new local community clean-up hubs close to our shipyards in Glasgow. 

“We’re encouraging our employees and residents local to Scotstoun and Govan to get involved and support throughout the summer so that together we can make a difference in our local communities.”

The support from BAE Systems will also enable a number of community clean-up events to take place over the next eight months, as restrictions allow, to allow BAE Systems employees and local communities to tackle litter and related environmental quality issues in the Govan and Scotstoun areas. Since its launch in 2018 the Upstream Battle campaign, has been raising awareness, gathering evidence, and inspiring action in Glasgow and the Clyde Valley.  

It has successfully brought together a diverse range of stakeholders from the public and private sectors, along with communities from up and down the Clyde Valley, to focus on developing innovative approaches to tackling this vital environmental challenge.

The partnership with BAE Systems will help further develop Upstream Battle on the River Clyde and its tributaries to raise awareness of the marine litter pathway from source to 
sea, encouraging responsible behaviours locally and inspiring activity from individuals, communities and employees of BAE Systems to help play their part in the campaign on the Clyde.


The Herald Scotland

The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992