The aerospace, defence, security and space sectors contributed a combined £37bn in value add to the UK economy in 2021/2. Our sectors are vital to the UK’s future economic success and prosperity and our nation’s security and international influence.

417,000 direct employees are at the heart of our four sectors and the workforce demonstrates hard work and dedication that enables the UK to celebrate such international success.

Collectively our sectors support more than 20,200 apprenticeships, a number that is rising despite the impact of the pandemic on manufacturing production.

With our members facing up to the workforce challenges of skills gaps and employees taking early retirement, apprentices and graduates are seen as a route to grow their workforce in the coming years. Reforms to the Apprenticeship Levy are essential so that it can be better used for increasing apprenticeship uptake and for retraining and upskilling our sectors existing workforce.

Unique workforce capability


Generating UK advantage

The UK is home to a unique workforce capability that generates UK advantage.

Investment and collective action are needed to identify the future roles and skills required to grow our sectors capabilities and meet the demands of the future such as Net Zero.

View key recommendations

ADS 10 key recommendations

Apprenticeship levy reforms

  1. Extend levy usage deadlines from 24 to 36 months so it better aligns with apprenticeship planning cycles.
  2. Support Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and supply chains by increasing the levy transfer amount from 25% to 35%.
  3. Offer greater flexibility in businesses ability to use levy money to train and upskill their workforce and remove the 12-month minimum course requirement.
  4. Remove the requirement for businesses in devolved nations to apply for levy money through central funding, which would enable more opportunities and would reduce demand on the devolved budgets.
  5. Allow the levy to be spent on travel and sustenance to allow businesses to attract apprentices from wider locations.
  6. ADS would like to see the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) updated every six months instead of the current 12.

    The SOL details the roles that are in high demand in the UK and allows overseas workers with the matching experience to work on a skilled worker visa.

ADS Sustainability Challenge

  1. ADS calls for the creation of a ‘Transferable Skills Catalogue’ to enable a larger overseas worker recruitment pool and allows businesses to upskill and address workforce shortages far quicker.

    Greater flexibility should be introduced to allow workers with a good foundation of transferable skills to apply for SOL roles.
  2. ADS calls on the Department for Education, with support from other UK Government departments and devolved administrations, to work with our sectors to prioritise the development of their industrial skills needs and the training required to deliver them.
  3. ADS sectors need to identify roles that are required to deliver future national and international targets for example net zero, and the skills that are needed to support the future job functions.
  4. ADS will work with our partners and Government in the creation of education courses and pathways to upskill the future and existing workforce.

What our members say

I have worked with ADS throughout my career and they have always provided a route to market and an opportunity both to meet new and existing customers and also to influence the key stakeholders in my industry. The value of the collective voice of the members as championed by ADS is significant and both my company and I personally have developed and seen increased success owing to the opportunities ADS membership provides.
Luke Bonnett – Senior Business Manager, Frazer-Nash Consultancy
At OCR International we have found the services of ADS and its team to be of great value in helping us expand our business reach to engage with new opportunities. There are multiple opportunities for this ranging from networking events, speaking opportunities, exhibitions and joining and participating with special interest groups. We would recommend membership of ADS as a vibrant and forward thinking community for anyone involved in the Defence, Aerospace or Security sectors.
Simon Heath, Director of Sales from OCR
As an ADS member, I am able to attend many diverse events, spread geographically across the UK. These present amazing opportunities to connect, collaborate and even to sell. The Special Interest Groups allow me to focus in on specific sectors, markets and opportunities too.
Steven Borwell, Managing Director, KOIOS Group
ADS provide our company with industry insights about the most important subjects that affect our business. Many of our team are influencing the future by joining ADS boards discussing important sector topics. ADS provides premium access to the most appropriate industry shows and events. The presence that ADS has increases the impact we could make alone.
Anthony Hammond. Divisional Managing Director, Hyde Aero Group
ALTEN's leadership in engineering and IT services has been greatly enhanced through our partnership with ADS Group. Their support has streamlined our security vetting process, enabling seamless global collaborations. The Meet the Buyer events have offered us invaluable visibility, strategic connections, and a multitude of business opportunities.
Testimonial from Alten Ltd