DASA to hold Engagement Day for SMEs at Cranfield University

DASA is set to host an Engagement Day event at Cranfield University to allow SMEs to present ideas to the MOD.

The Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) will host an Engagement Day at Cranfield University offering SMEs the opportunity to see how their business could work with the MOD. DASA is partnering with Cranfield University to hold an engagement day specifically aimed at small to medium-sized enterprises and academia.

Attendees will hear about current funding opportunities, gain advice on accessing mentoring and finance and have a chance to question the Armed Forces’ innovation hubs in a panel discussion. The purpose of the event is to inform suppliers, especially those less familiar with the defence environment, about how they can engage and support the Defence Innovation ecosystem, whether through DASA or through the Front Line Commands innovation hubs.

SMEs will have the opportunity of attending two of the three workshops taking place during the afternoon session. The event is on 11 February 2020 at Cranfield University.

Workshop A: Funding your Innovation and Business

  • Early stage businesses frequently fail because they cannot access the capital needed to grow. The workshop will primarily focus on finding out what works best for you, what doesn’t work so well and how you would want the information shared in the future.

Workshop B: Optimising access to information around funding and opportunities

  • A discussion on how funding opportunities are currently shared across defence platforms. The workshop will primarily focus on finding out what works best for you, what doesn’t work so well and how you would want the information shared in the future.

Workshop C: Increasing the likelihood of MOD innovation exploitation through commercialisation

  • An opportunity for SMEs to understand and influence the work underway in MOD, and Industry Defence Supplier communities, to increase the likelihood of MOD investment in innovation, resulting in exploitable military capability.

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Annual Armed Forces Covenant report released

The government has released the annual Armed Forces Covenant report which looks at services available to serving and former personnel.

The Armed Forces Covenant report looks at how public services and the government are ensuring that serving and former personnel are not disadvantaged by their service. The 2020 report looks at what has been changed over the last year and the expansion of the Armed Forces Covenant as well as the improvements that still need to be made. The Armed Forces Covenant is expected to be further incorporated into law following the Queen’s Speech earlier this month.

The first chapter looks at governance, with the key achievement noted as the creation of the Office for Veteran’s Affairs (OVA). The OVA aims to secure veteran’s welfare across the public sector including housing, mental health and physical health, employment, and education. The report notes that the office represents the first time that veteran’s issues have been overseen by a ministerial group at the centre of government and was given £5million in funding in the 2019 Spending Round.

The next chapter looks at a number of developments in healthcare for serving and former personnel, including the UK Service Families Health Working Group, the Veteran’s Mental Health High Impact Service, and an NHS study on suicide. As well as this, the report examines the continued work of the NHS and the government on providing mental and physical healthcare as well as case studies of the appointment of a Covenant Officer to Milton Keynes Council. NHS Improvement and NHS England are set to launch an engagement to understand the health needs of Armed Forces families and improve the commissioning of help from the patient group.

The third chapter looks at education, including childcare for service families and education and training within the MOD. The report looks at expansion in a number of services including the Service Children’s Progression Alliance, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, and the MOD Education Support Fund (ESF). The chapter examines how the MOD plans to improve opportunities available to personnel through the introduction of a Professional and Personal Development Plan in the Through Life Development Policy to encourage personal development among service personnel.

The report looks at the Future Accommodation Model pilot, which is due to launch this year, and aims to improve the flexibility of accommodation on offer to service people. Last year saw an increase in spending and £123million has been set aside for improvements and modernisation. The report includes MOD commitments to reduce the number of empty properties on their estate through demolishing, handing over properties, and widening eligibility to cohabiting couples with an aim of a 10% reduction by Autumn of next year.

Chapter five addresses Inquests & Judicial Engagement and covers legal protections, the Defence Inquests Unit, and Northern Ireland legacy issues. The report details efforts made by the Secretary of State for Defence earlier this year to conduct a public consultation on legal protections for personnel who have served outside the UK. The MOD has promised to work with the Northern Ireland Office to ensure legacy cases are fairly represented and justice can be found for any victims.

The next chapter looks at family life, including the planned evaluation of the Families Strategy, Flexible Service, and issues facing defence staff and their families such as mental health and domestic abuse. A case study in the chapter looks at the excavation of a Roman building in Lincolnshire that gave RAF families a chance to take part in an archaeological project, which they say had positive results for participating groups. Services such as Military Coworking Hubs and the Forces Families Jobs website have expanded, offering opportunities and advice to families as well as the ability to socialise with other defence personnel.

Transition and through-life support is explored in the report, described as a core factor of the MOD’s Armed Forces Families strategy as well as a key part of their contribution to the 2018 government-wide Strategy For Our Veterans. The section looks at government commitments to veterans, non-UK nationals, widows/widowers, and holistic transition and explores a HMRC internship launched last year for service leavers. The Office for Veteran’s Affairs was created in 2019 and has worked with the government to improve issues facing veterans and shape policy to ensure they are not disadvantaged once they have left the army.

The section of the report covering business and the community features a number of case studies including support for local public services and employment projects. In 2019, the DWP secured £5million to expand the roles of Armed Forces Champions and over 4,000 organisations signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant and commited to treat service members fairly, including businesses. There has also been an expansion in the Defence Discount Service, with 12,000 new businesses signing up to provide benefits to service members, and an increase in covenant signings from organisations and businesses within the public sector, defence, and trade bodies.

The report finishes with a list of commitments for the next year and the future. These include commitments to work with other organisations to make services easier to access across education, health, accommodation, and other areas. It also details ongoing projects and the stage of development they are in as well as the specific promises made by the government and where they apply.

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How can the defence sector solve the tech skills gap?

Writing for Defence Online, Nick Walrond, Managing Director of Sanderson’s Government & Defence team, examines the issue of the technology skills shortage.

There has been a tech skills shortage in the defence sector for as long as I’ve worked in it (18 years if you really want to know). Companies need technical specialists to drive forward innovation and respond to threats to national security, but put simply, the talent pool can’t keep up.

Not an isolated issue

This isn’t a problem which is specific to government and defence – there is a massive shortage of highly skilled digital specialists in the economy as a whole. (ISC)²’s Global Workforce Survey has predicted a shortage of 1.8 million information security professionals by 2022. My clients tell me daily that they can’t train people quickly enough to meet demand.

This is a major concern for business – three quarters of UK CIOs believe that they will face more security threats in the next five years, not as a result of increased cyber-attacks, but because they can’t recruit the right people. According to TechUK, the UK currently has the third highest global demand for cyber security jobs – and employer demand for cyber security skills is three times higher than candidate interest.

This huge skills gap forces private and public sector organisations alike to fight over the same scarce pool of candidates. In the race for talent, however, defence recruiters face additional hurdles of lengthy procurement, rigid pay scales and tight security clearance – it can seem like a mountain to climb.

So, with all this in mind, how can you compete? As with any challenge, taking the time to recognise the hurdles is the first step on the road to success.


Planning for the long-term

All too often we still see that recruitment in the defence space is still typically a reactive process, driven by urgent need rather than long-term strategy. This process won’t work in a market which requires high levels of security clearance. 

You could spend months advertising and re-advertising the same roles to no avail. Sought after candidates with the right skills are put off by lengthy procurement processes and rigid pays scales in the public sector, and even private sector suppliers can struggle to compete with the appeal of consumer tech companies.


A question of clearance

Once the right candidate is found, clearance can take a long time – up to 12 months at the highest level. Candidates for senior roles must typically be British nationals with at least five years’ residence – defence companies are fishing from a very small pool. Added to this, the Government and its supply chain are often expanding at the same time, in the same field and location, they’re competing to get the attention of the same few individuals.

The end result can be vast numbers of vacancies and massive delays to projects. This can create a big discrepancy between official policy and the reality on the ground. We have all seen public sector organisations announce the opening of new offices then spend years attempting to find core teams. Private sector contractors often save the day, able to jump in with the right talent and skills at short notice. Those who can, however, are only able to do so through their own forward planning.


Addressing the skills gap

These challenges are not going to be solved overnight, so a long-term strategy for talent development is essential. However, in the short term, this planning can be complemented by some good lateral thinking.

The Government has sought to address the structural problem by establishing the National Cyber Security Strategy (NCSS). The NCSS has engaged extensively with industry, existing cyber security professionals and academia to better understand the nature of the challenge. Its primary aim is to ensure that ‘the UK has a sustainable supply of home-grown cyber skilled professionals to meet the growing demands of an increasingly digital economy, in both the public and private sectors, and defence.’

Thankfully, a new pan-government framework is also providing a platform for government customers to engage with suppliers in a more dynamic and talent-centred way. Previous frameworks could have been viewed as transactional, based on a real time view of candidates and vacancies. Now, government defence organisations can inform accredited providers they need X positions filling in a year, enabling recruitment teams to take a long-term view and find the candidate with the necessary tech skills and clearance in advance.

 You cannot, however, rely on such initiatives to secure your talent pipeline. You need to do your own strategic thinking as well.


Talent pooling

When it comes to tactics, process-based recruitment doesn’t work in a talent short market-place. It’s impossible to attract niche, hard to find and scarce talent by running a rigid process – you need to develop a talent market. As a recruiter in the sector, we often know and have already vetted all the talent of a particular level or with relevant qualifications in each region. This means we have a talent pool ready to go as and when the need arises, with no time delays for security clearance.

To do this yourself means identifying all the skilled candidates with the relevant clearance in a particular location and nurturing a relationship with them. Speak to them regularly. Engage them. Find out what interests them. This way, defence organisations can build connections with potential talent and create a vital pipeline. In the long run, it will streamline recruitment and be a lot more effective than advertising and re-advertising roles with little or no cut through.


Brand building

Building a brand proposition is also key – skilled workers may not currently have a strong perception of a particular organisation, but this can be developed. By listening to potential talent and communicating regularly, misconceptions can be removed, creating an employer brand that appeals to potential applicants.

This approach is multi-dimensional and much more long-term. It isn’t transactional. It may take a couple of years to find the right position for an individual, but once it has been identified the appointment process can be swift and efficient.

Some defence companies have taken to building such a strong relationship with their clients that they are trusted to run projects off site at their own facilities. This means teams can then be located in alternative regional hubs, changing the catchment area and not competing for the same candidates as everyone else. It also has the potential to remove the issue of project delays, by widening the pool of potential candidates, enabling activity to begin almost instantly.



A real long-term solution might be found in re-skilling. In addition to making use of apprenticeships, some companies and government departments have started to invest in skills academies.

 It is not only younger workers who might fill the gap though – we are working closely with a partner to enrol ex-servicemen and officers on cyber training courses, before finding them key roles in the industry. These individuals often have the temperament and motivation for defence work, not to mention a certain level of security clearance already. They can learn quickly and adapt fast, ready for employment. Once in the job, strong loyalty can be built to the sector.


Invest for the future

These strategies aren’t quick wins, so will not have an immediate impact but will deliver real benefits two years down the line; forward thinking companies will have a cohort of talented and loyal workers who feel invested in and valued, whilst those focusing solely on ‘todays’ problems will continue to suffer.

Whether in the public or private sector, the technology skills gap has long been an issue which seemed to be unsolvable. However, by taking a long-term approach to recruitment and investing in talent markets, any organisation can get ahead of the competition and secure the best, most-sought after defence professionals.


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How the military is implementing cyber security training

Defence Online’s Ciara Houghton takes a look at how the military is integrating cyber security training as it takes on a growing importance in defence.

Technological advancements in recent years, alongside an increase in sophisticated attacks, have shown the need for cybersecurity training. Many military organisations are exploring the most efficient ways of securing a workforce that can maintain security across computer systems. The increasing use of IoT presents a number of opportunities for hackers and requires an entirely different approach to security compared to single computer systems. Many defence organisations are hoping to use similar technology to control large numbers of unmanned vehicles at the same time. After a number of large-scale cyber attacks on government organisations in recent years, cybersecurity has become a larger priority for defence.

Last year, the MOD opened a ‘cyber security school’ near Swindon. The Defence Cyber School is part of the Defence Academy in Shrivenham and will explore skills in line with the National Cyber Security Strategy Objectives. The centre aims to address specialist skills and wider education. It comes as a joint investment between the MOD and the National Cyber Security Programme. The MOD hopes to develop specialist teams to counter overseas attacks.

The MOD wants to develop ‘threat hunters’ to easily identify any nefarious activity. The British government’s National Cyber Security Strategy outlines plans to close the skills gap in cybersecurity, one objective is to attract more young people to the workforce. This includes making cybersecurity a larger part of training courses. The strategy criticises a lack of pathways into careers through training. In response, it calls for collaborative government intervention through different departments as well as academia and industry. The government is aiming for a ‘homegrown’ supply of cyber specialists.

In the US, the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies provides courses to educate and provide career pathways. This includes formal education as well as vocational skills. Training is online and accessible at any time. The training offers certification to ensure career pathways. The European Defence Agency (EDA) is aiming to develop its own courses covering a range of skill levels. The courses will be available to all member states. The EDA also offers ‘forensic’ cybersecurity, examining attacks after they have occurred.

The MOD has also emphasised the need to close the ‘skills gap’ and train existing staff. The government strategy explains the need for both short term intervention to provide a response to threats as they happen and long-term plans to create a workforce fully equipped to deal with any threats. The government has promised to create a ‘self-standing skills strategy’ that builds on capabilities already in the workforce.

The Cyber Defence Academy provides online training across the MOD to train staff in both specific skills and wider education. They have also encouraged collaboration across government departments and aim to ensure the MOD has access to cyber specialists. The US DOD Cyber Training Academy allows personnel to access online courses and virtual tools to improve their knowledge of security procedures. Managers can identify courses needed for the roles of personnel under their supervision. They can also approve course requests and monitor student progress. Through the academy, personnel can gain certification on courses and advance through the DOD or use it to stay up to date with cybersecurity procedures. Certificates available include Digital Media Collector, Cyber Crime Investigator, and Digital Forensic Examiner. The DOD hopes to encourage career progression among staff. The academy aims to establish Defence computer systems that are secure from counterintelligence, criminal and fraudulent activities and criminal and unauthorised use.

As well as training human staff, many Defence institutions are looking at the automation of computer systems to provide greater security. Many cyber attacks have become automated, creating a need for an automated response. As hacker’s techniques become more sophisticated, they could intercept a computer system and compromise it in minutes, much faster than even the most advanced cybersecurity infrastructure can respond to, meaning systems should pursue built-in responses. Recent attacks have used automation, infecting multiple systems within an institution.

Advances in AI and machine learning make it easier to automate processes. An IBM cybersecurity survey earlier this year found a need for greater automation in cybersecurity processes, with less than half of companies using the technique. The survey found that organisations responding quickly to cyber attacks save more money and information than those that don’t.  The US DOD Cyber Strategy released last year listed automation as a priority. The strategy details a plan to use enterprise solutions to operate large-scale data analysis to identify suspicious activity across systems. They aim to be able to compete with the capability of hackers armed with cutting edge technology.

Earlier this year the Pentagon warned that DOD cybersecurity was not keeping up with technology, but said that AI and automation had made some progress. The report emphasises the need to recruit more cybersecurity experts but added that this needs to work alongside automation to ensure systems are properly protected.

The DOD has created a programme to train military veterans for cybersecurity roles. This is mainly focussed on filling civilian cybersecurity roles, and also hopes to improve general national security in the US. US-based IT training firm CompTIA developed an apprenticeship programme directed at veterans and their family members. The apprenticeship offers certification through classroom-based training.

The US offers a number of cybersecurity apprenticeships to veterans through state authorities. CyberVetsUSA, a programme launched by Cisco Systems, teaches skills to veterans, reservists, national guard members, military spouses, and transitioning service members. The online training aims to fill the vacancies in the growing cyber workforce.

The British Institute for Apprenticeships offers qualifications to school leavers providing training in general cybersecurity and specialisms. These apprenticeships teach skills such as cybersecurity in ICT infrastructure, threat trends, and basic theory. These apprenticeships provide career pathways into wider industry, but the UK government also offers roles in national security. IT apprenticeships are available across the British armed forces as well as in government security. The RAF offers apprenticeships in cyber communications and cybersecurity, which give training alongside qualifications. The apprenticeship is open to personnel, leavers, reservists, civilians and veterans with technical skills. Cyber communications and intelligence apprenticeships are also available through the RAF.

To learn more about cyber security and how your business can stay protected from threats, visit the Cyber Essentials Online website.

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Agenda for the DPRTE 2020 Technology and Innovation Zone released

The agenda for the Technology and Innovation Zone at Defence Procurement, Research, Technology & Exportability (DPRTE) 2020 has been revealed.

The event, taking place at Farnborough International Exhibition Centre on 1st April, will host a Technology and Innovation Zone – one of six event zones at the event – which will focus on the key role these themes play in the defence sector.

Delivered by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), industry and academia, the MOD’s vision is for science and technology (S&T) to play a central role in defence thinking and culture, directing and applying innovative research and thinking to meet the current and future strategic needs of defence and security.

To achieve this, the MOD must ‘mainstream’ S&T into its strategic policy and decision-making and continue to deliver sustainable and cutting-edge S&T for our Armed Forces.

The defence sector relies heavily on technology and innovation to develop new solutions to meet the challenges it is facing; however, bringing a new product or service to the market can be daunting if you don’t know how.

The Technology and Innovation Pavilion at DPRTE 2020 will provide attendees with the opportunity to meet with key organisations that can help and advise on potential funding options and bringing products and services to the market within a science and technology programme worth over £400 million a year.

Graham Farnsworth, Head of Intellectual Property Management at Dstl will get proceedings underway as he discusses intellectual property impact. He will be followed by Phil Blunden, DCPP Communications Manager at the MOD, who discusses the topic ‘Cyber Defence and Risk: Securing the Supply Chain’.

Andy Cunningham the Executive Director of innovation at the UK Defence Solutions Centre will talk about a collaborative approach to innovation.

Bringing things to a close will be Ian Campbell, Executive Chair at Innovative UK who will share his expertise on innovation in the defence sector.

Sponsorship and exhibition opportunities are now available. For further details, please email exhibitions@dprte.co.uk or call 0845 270 7066.

Limited offer: Delegate rates are being held at 2019 prices until 31 January. To book for just £95 click here

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EDA launches aeromedical evacuation service for civillians

The EDA has begun its first deployment of a new fixed-wing aeromedical evacuation service for civilians to support Belgian forces.

The civilian fixed-wing Aeromedical Evacuation (AIRMEDVAC) service has been sent to Niger to assist Belgian Forces working in the country. In 2019, EDA concluded several framework contracts with international aeromedical providers to cover fixed and rotary wing AIRMEDEVAC services in Africa and Europe.

The project’s objective was the provision of in-theatre AIRMEDEVAC services to evacuate patients from the point of injury to an initial Medical Treatment Facility (Forward AIRMEDEVAC normally conducted by rotary wing platforms) or fixed-wing transfer between in-theatre Medical Treatment Facilities (Tactical AIRMEDEVAC) to be used in frame of national and/or international defence and/or security operations. The project is designed around military technical requirements developed by EU Military Staff and Member States experts and endorsed by the EU Military Committee.

A spokesperson for Belgian Defence staff said: “This type of contractual vector offers ‘ready-to-use’ solutions allowing quick response to operational needs.”

“EDA is advantageously taking care of procurement process, contracting, invoicing, etc. whilst the customer still keeps the right to take part in the evaluation of tenders by each reopening of competition and also remains responsible for controlling the performance of the contract once signed. The process with EDA is highly professional and quick, offering time and budget savings.”

Aside from direct support to operations, the unit also supports fixed, rotary and unmanned training and exercise activities. Similarly, the Agency continues to support fixed-wing air transport operations under the banner of the European Air Transport Force (EATF) Programme, including capacity building activities for specific fleets (C-295, C-130) and initial training of Medium Altitude, Long Endurance (MALE) drone pilots and operators.

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BAE Systems to begin roll out of record-breaking apprenticeship scheme

BAE Systems is unveiling a new apprenticeship scheme set to recruit over 800 new apprentices in the UK.

The apprenticeship scheme will be the largest ever, recruiting over 800 people across the UK. The majority of the new apprentices will join either the Air or Maritime sectors, this includes developing future combat air technologies for the Royal Air Force and working on the Dreadnought programme – a new generation of submarine for the Royal Navy that will replace the current Vanguard class.

BAE Systems currently employ more than 34,000 people in the UK and are one of the country’s largest employers of engineers, with around 66 per cent of staff employed in engineering or engineering-related roles. They invested more than £100m in education, skills and early careers activities in the UK in 2018 and have around 2,000 apprentices in training.

Chief Executive of BAE Systems, Charles Woodburn, said: “Our apprentices are the lifeblood of our business. I’m incredibly proud of the significant contribution they make to the design and delivery of our most complex products, equipment and services, helping to ensure we remain at the forefront of technology and innovation and safeguard our national security for decades to come.”

“As technology and our workplace evolves, it’s critical that we continue to invest in training the next generation of engineers and leaders. By working alongside industry peers, government and the education sector, we can ensure we are ready to respond to complex challenges of the future.”

The apprenticeship recruitment window is open now and will run until 28 February 2020. More information is available on the BAE Systems website.

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NDA uses decommissioning drones to inspect nuclear infrastructure

A government case study has examined the uptake of decommissioning drones by the NDA.

The use of decommissioning drones to examine nuclear infrastructure is the subject of a new government case study. The NDA (Nuclear Decommissioning Authority) has been using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to analyse nuclear sites.

The government describes drones as providing safer, faster and potentially cheaper access to external and internal spaces for a wide range of functions. These include building inspections, radiation monitoring, photography, security.

Across the NDA group, a variety of different drones have been flown to carry out a range of different tasks. They have inspected pipelines, tall chimneys, roofs and radioactive facilities.

They have collected high-quality visual images, measured the temperature of vessels, found areas of radioactivity and accurately mapped legacy facilities. The information has eliminated working at heights and radiation dose to operators.

Production of the report brought together users to share their experience, hear about the latest developments in technology and legislation and identify further opportunities for the use of drones. The final report has also been used to highlight the use of drones to the wider NDA group.

Future research will push the boundaries still further, driving down costs and extending the length and complexity of the flights they can undertake. For nuclear decommissioning, such versatility offers enormous potential to save time and costs associated with inspecting the facilities across NDA sites.

Compared to traditional manual methods, there have been savings in both time and money. This case study is part of the Direct Research Portfolio Report 2018 to 2019.

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US DOD invests $32m in Manufacturing Engineering Education Program

The US Department of Defense, through the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, has selected seven awardees for the Manufacturing Engineering Education Program.

These distinguished educational and industry partners will receive more than $32 million over a three-year period to establish or expand educational opportunities for Americans to acquire manufacturing skills critical to sustaining the US defense innovation base.

MEEP establishes programs that better position the current and next-generation manufacturing workforce to produce military systems and components that assure defense technological superiority.

“MEEP plays an important role in developing and maintaining the advanced manufacturing workforce our nation needs,” said Dr. Jagadeesh Pamulapati, Director of Laboratories and Personnel in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering.

“Awardees include a program for middle schoolers as well as adult workforce retraining and projects focused on serving military veterans. These programs expand opportunities in cutting-edge manufacturing techniques such as additive manufacturing and robotics and strengthen important shop-floor skills like welding and machining.”

The seven awardees are:

Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI), Knoxville, Tennessee: IACMI and its collaborators will establish a national learning network, based on the best-in-class program at Davis Technical College in Kaysville, Utah, to develop a skilled composites manufacturing workforce.

Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow (LIFT), Detroit, Michigan: This venture will expand Operation Next, a manufacturing-focused training and credentialing program for soldiers in their last six months of active duty, to nine new locations nationwide.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts: The initiative will develop a Virtual Manufacturing Lab that offers guided or autonomous online learning for three advanced manufacturing audiences: design engineers, fabrication engineers, and technicians.

Monroe Community College (MCC), Rochester, New York: MCC will enhance the nation’s optics workforce via improved curricula, apprenticeships and high school recruitment and outreach.

Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME), Cleveland, Ohio: SME will develop an online, broad-based, advanced manufacturing curriculum delivered through Augmented  and Virtual Reality that aligns with industry-recognized credentials.

University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley, Edinburg, Texas: A consortium of partners will cultivate an educational ecosystem to draw young talent to additive manufacturing, smart manufacturing, and innovations in lightweight materials, structures and systems.

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Virginia: The school will create university and continuing education curricula to develop engineering talent for advanced manufacturing of structures and integration with lightweight composites for electromagnetic applications critical to U.S. military superiority.

The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (OUSD(R&E)) is responsible for the research, development, and prototyping activities across the Department of Defense. OUSD(R&E) fosters technological dominance across the DoD enterprise to ensure the advantage of the American warfighter.

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SSCL wins £300m MOD contract to provide critical workforce services

Shared Services Connected Ltd (SSCL) has signed a major new contract with the Ministry of Defence to provide improved access to Armed Forces pay, pensions, military HR and administrative services.

The £300 million Future Service Delivery Contract (FSDC) will see SSCL deliver new platforms and more modern ways of working for MoD Defence Business Services.

SSCL was awarded the contract following a comprehensive tender process, which determined that SSCL provided the best all-round quality solution in terms of quality of service and value for money.

The new agreement aims to fundamentally transform services for military personnel, reservists and veterans, by introducing new digital technologies to improve their experience as service users.

It includes smartphone accessible web pages, allowing users to connect to services more directly. Veterans in particular will benefit from an improved Veterans Portal.

The seven-year agreement is part of the Modernising Defence Programme, which is committed to driving innovation, improving agility and driving efficiencies.

The new contract is the biggest of its type in Europe, benefitting several million people in the UK.

John Neilson, SSCL CEO, said: “We are delighted SSCL’s proposal to provide partner services to the Future Services Delivery Contract has been approved by the MoD. Our teams are proud that SSCL will be delivering critical services for Armed Forces personnel and Veterans to the highest standard, whilst providing value for money for the UK taxpayer. We are also deeply committed to working with FSDC colleagues to ease the transition to the new ways of working.

 “SSCL has a track record of successful large-scale transformation and delivering digital technology services to the public sector. We look forward to working with the MoD to achieve its vision to transform core payroll, HR and pensions services for active military personnel across the Armed Forces and Veterans.”

The new agreement with the MoD follows the announcement last month that SSCL had signed a three year contract extension – worth over £100 million – with seven government departments, in collaboration with Government Shared Services (GSS), to continue to provide a range of critical business services.

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