How fighter jets and helicopters can level up the UK

02 March 2022

Leonardo, one of the UK’s largest aerospace companies, today announced its partnership with the Purpose Coalition, a grouping of the UK's most purpose-led leaders and organisations. The two will work together to analyse Leonardo’s contribution to the levelling up agenda in the UK and set out how its engineering-driven activities, such as the development of digital fighter jet technologies and the production of military helicopters, can help create a level playing field for everyone across the UK through science and technology research and exports.

Globally, Leonardo is a top ten aerospace, defence and security company and, in the UK, it is one of the biggest onshore suppliers of high-tech equipment to the MOD. Science and tech innovation are the bedrock of Leonardo’s business and it is proud to be one of the founding partners of Tempest, the project to create a next generation combat air system for the UK and its allies by 2035.

Under the new partnership, Leonardo will be working with the Purpose Coalition to develop a Levelling Up Impact report. This will analyse the work the company is already undertaking to deliver a positive impact in the communities it serves. Elements will include Leonardo’s top-rated apprenticeship programme, its work to encourage people back into STEM careers and its ongoing efforts to embed an inclusive culture where every employee feels comfortable bringing themselves to work. 

The report will focus on the framework of 14 ‘Levelling Up Goals’ established in 2021 by former Education Secretary Rt Hon Justine Greening with input from businesses, universities and policymakers to help tackle the challenges the country faces post Covid-19. They focus on key life stages - from early years through to adulthood, alongside other barriers such as the availability of positive destinations post-16 and closing the digital divide - and highlight the main issues that need to be resolved to create a level playing field for everyone. 

The Goals are the first major piece of work by the Purpose Coalition, which includes some of the UK’s most purpose-led businesses, universities and public sector organisations, such as Amazon, BP, Gateley, Cisco, the BBC, UK Power Networks, Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, the University of Essex and many others.

Chair and CEO at Leonardo UK, Norman Bone, said: “Leonardo is a business with purpose. Our people work closely with the UK Armed Forces and we feel a strong sense of duty to those who serve our country. We also take pride in leading our nation’s science, research and technology at sites all around the UK. Working with the Purpose Coalition is a very natural fit.

"As a company that has to constantly innovate in order to remain internationally competitive, we also understand the value of inclusion and diversity and we’re committed to recruiting beyond our traditional base as well as looking to the next generation to bring fresh new talent and ideas into the business.” 

Leonardo has seven UK sites – in Basildon, Bristol, Edinburgh, Lincoln, Luton, Southampton and Yeovil – which bring investment into those wider regions as well as job opportunities. Its Edinburgh site, for example, employs about 1,800 people working on surveillance radars and is the recipient of the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise in Innovation and International Trade. It is also home to The Incubator, an engine for turning business ideas into reality, based on creativity and partnership.  

Leonardo’s focus is on shaping the future through innovation. Sustainability is integral to its long-term vision and its strategy is based on the three core pillars of People, Planet and Prosperity. It is committed not only to welcoming young people into the company but to nurturing the talent of its employees across all entry levels, while considering the long-term impact and value of its initiatives. 

Justine Greening added: “Levelling up is about delivering opportunity into every community across the country. People shouldn’t have to miss out on key life chances just because of where they live, or their background.  In too many places, they can have talent and potential but just can’t access the kind of opportunities that would enable them to make a success of their lives.

“Leonardo is a company at the cutting edge of new technology. It understands the many opportunities that its position offers. As a purpose-led business, its leadership team recognises that it can use its expertise and experience to harness and develop talent in a way that will make a real difference in the communities where it works. That means developing a well-equipped workforce, attracting young people into the company, working with them to develop the right skills for a new greener, digital, high-tech economy and ensuring that it can continue to retain that talent at every stage of a person’s life. It is driven by a sustainability strategy which urges constant evaluation of how well it is doing. It provides a framework which will help to ensure long-term success for the company and its stakeholders while also delivering a positive social and economic impact locally and in the wider region.

“Leonardo has an impressive heritage but is very much a business of the future. The possibilities offered by the technology it is developing are endless. It is crucial that everyone who has the potential also has the chance to share those opportunities. The Purpose Coalition is proud to be working with the company on its Levelling Up Impact Report which will highlight its commitment to deliver opportunity for everyone, levelling up the country and closing the opportunity gap."