Defense firm Leonardo has gathered manufacturing firms near its Somerset base to discuss initiatives to benefit local communities still recovering from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The helicopter manufacturer hosted more than 25 companies spanning UK aerospace and engineering at the new £ 10m iAero aerospace collaboration center, located next to the firm’s site in Yeovil.
The company said it spoke with firms within its UK supply chain about opportunities and areas of potential collaboration presented to UK businesses to add social value to its operations.
Leonardo, which recently secured a £ 360m Ministry of Defense (MoD) helicopter support contract sustaining 340 South West jobs, said social value was a growing area of importance in Government procurement.
The Government has defined ‘social value’ around five key themes: equal opportunity, tackling economic inequality, fighting climate change, Covid-19 recovery, and wellbeing.
Leonardo said it had discussed his work to date in all of these areas, including activities to upskill experienced staff and a job scheme for engineers who have taken a career break to re-enter the industry.
It also discussed its employees producing PPE for hospitals and care homes during the pandemic, fundraising for community causes and its target to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030.
The event also featured talks and discussions from CBI, The 5% Club, and case studies from members of Leonardo’s UK supply chain such as Aerotron and member of Team AW149 UK Ford Aerospace.
Sara Tomley, deputy director of the CBI South West, who attended the event said: “Embedding social value is becoming best practice for businesses of all sizes and sectors. It can open doors to new business opportunities, encourage firms to benefit their communities, and help staff recruitment and retention – catalytic factors for economic growth.
“The dark days of the pandemic showcased the private sector as a force for good. But businesses cannot rest on their laurels, so, working alongside public sector partners, firms can help address the needs of their local communities and the big challenges of our time – levelling up and net zero. ”
Jane Cumisky, head of sustainability at Leonardo UK added: “Our focus on social value will allow us to magnify our contribution to industry and we are excited about what we could deliver in the future not just in terms of the local economy and jobs, but also the natural environment and society as a whole. ”
Leonardo employs more than 3,000 people at the Yeovil site where it is also building a £ 30m logistics hub this year.
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