Lockheed Martin UK's director of human resources Debbie Newton says the company is ramping up its recruitment of home-grown graduates

Lockheed Martin employs around 1,000 people in the UK and has nine principal sites. The UK arm of the company works on a variety of projects, both within and outside aerospace, but its biggest client is the UK Ministry of Defence. It works on programmes for the MoD including the Merlin helicopter project for the Royal Navy, the Hercules C-130J and the Joint Strike Fighter.

One thing Lockheed Martin is proud of is how it has developed its UK staff. For example, when the Merlin project began a decade ago, 90% of people working on it were US citizens - now a significant proportion are UK nationals.

As well as transferring expertise from its US base and recruiting experienced UK staff, Lockheed Martin UK is keen to develop students on degree programmes. "We have a pretty robust industrial trainee programme," says Newton. "Trainees come in on one-year placements from university and are given real jobs with real responsibilities. They have a valuable role to play and are not just used as cheap labour. If we have suitable vacancies when they graduate, we will look to bring them back full-time."

Soft skills, such as ability to develop good interpersonal relationships, a positive attitude and ability to work in a team, play as important a role as experience and technical skills, according to Newton. "When I look at a CV, I'm also really looking at the candidate's key achievements - what that person has done and achieved in his or her work. That's what captures my interest. The soft skills are what we can then test at interview.

"Recently we've been looking to recruit a variety of engineering and business skills, including more engineers with software development skills. We're looking to open a software development laboratory at our site in Havant, Hampshire." At the moment, around 10 software engineers are being sought, but that number is likely to increase in 2005.

The facilities will be used to develop and test future concepts and technology for military mission systems and networked sensor systems. The investment will create and sustain a number of highly skilled jobs on the south coast of England. When fully functional, the labs will first be used in the design, development and testing of a new open architecture mission system for the Royal Navy's proven Merlin multi-mission helicopter. 

"We've done pretty well at finding the skills we've been looking for recently, although difficult areas for us have been software engineers and people with domain-specific skills such as electronic warfare and logistics," says Newton.

"We have to recognise, however, that the marketplace does seem to be becoming more candidate-driven again, and so have to respond as swiftly as we can."


Source: Flight International