THE announcement of a multimillion-pound contract will strengthen a town and offer security for future jobs.
That is the message of Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage following the prime minister’s announcement that Vector Aerospace will be part of a £420m Ministry of Defence contract.
David Cameron visited Portsmouth yesterday and director of public affairs at Vector Aerospace Trevor Pritchard said the visit to discuss the announcement was the icing on the cake.
Ms Dinenage said: ‘We have such a strong track record of offering high-skilled engineering on the Gosport peninsula from HMS Sultan to the Daedalus site.
‘To keep on growing more work in this area and to recognise others already here in the hope to do more, is very strong.
‘Vector is one of the biggest firms in Gosport and it has been around for 75 years employing generations and generations. An announcement of this size safeguards all these jobs and it is a really important site.’
As revealed by The News, Mr Cameron announced Boeing would be awarded the £420m contract with Vector Aerospace Fleetlands, off Fareham Road, maintaining and servicing the Royal Air Force’s fleet of Chinook helicopters.
Mr Pritchard said this news will secure up to 300 jobs on the Gosport site.
‘We are delighted with the announcement. The fact that the prime minister came to the region and asked to meet the apprentices from Vector was the icing on the cake,’ he said.
‘It is great for the company and for Gosport.
‘This five-year contract will secure the jobs of around 280 people who work with the Chinook helicopters.
‘But there are others who work indirectly with them so in total, we have around 300 people who will have their jobs secured. It is great for us to know that there is continuity for these jobs.’
He added: ‘The announcement is very important for Gosport as well as for us. It is great for the town given the employment opportunities that we can offer.’
During his visit to Portsmouth, Mr Cameron met two apprentices from Vector Aerospace.
They spoke to him about their apprenticeship at the business and what they do there.
Mr Pritchard said: ‘The prime minister seemed very interested in meeting them and for us it is important because we place great emphasis on the development of engineering skills.
‘We have around 30 apprenticeships at various stages at Vector currently.’
The Boeing contract announcement comes within days of Vector Aerospace being given a £2m grant from the Regional Growth Fund.
Gosport Borough Council leader Mark Hook said the two developments would help to grow Gosport’s economy.
He said: ‘We have over the last five years tried to bring job continuity and growth into Gosport whether through Daedalus or Vector.
‘It is important that we try to have as many jobs on the peninsula because the more jobs we have, the better it is for the town.’
He added: ‘Vector is a big employer and it is important that their place is maintained.
‘The contract gives them the confidence to move forward especially as many of their contracts have been completed in recent years.’
Apprentices meet PM
TWO apprentices from an aviation firm were given the chance to meet the prime minister when he visited yesterday.
James Clement, 23, and Sean Collins, 21, have recently graduated from Vector Aerospace’s Fleetlands site in Gosport.
Their meeting with Mr Cameron follows the announcement that Vector will be part of a £420m Ministry of Defence contract to maintain Chinook helicopters.
Sean said: ‘I enjoyed talking to the prime minister, who asked me about my apprenticeship and how my skills have developed since I graduated.
‘I explained about my involvement and interest in continuous improvement and how important this is to Vector Aerospace’s business.’
Vector has 30 apprentices on a three-year course at its Fareham Road site.
Michael Tyrrell, managing director of Vector, said: ‘Our highly-skilled teams continue to invest in this region’s young engineering talent and on average, our apprentice retention has achieved an impressive 94 per cent.’