Degree apprenticeships launched to boost hi-tech skills
As part of a new scheme which has been backed by government and industry, young people will now be able to achieve a complete honours degree whilst they earn a wage and pay no fees. The new Degree Apprenticeship qualifications are going to be taught in England from next September, beginning in the field of digital and software. The government would pay two-thirds of the costs and fees whilst employers pay trainees’ wages and other costs. The government stated that employers of every size can take part in the scheme. Ed Vaizey, the Digital Economy Minister stated that this has stemmed from government collaboration with higher education and industry. Already, 150 places have been guaranteed on the programme by the employers involved, in subject areas which range from software design to information technology for business.
The goal is to integrate academic learning at degree level and practical training – “to ensure that education and training routes are providing the skills which employers need now and in the future”, stated Mr Valzey. The employers include Accenture, BT, Capgemini, Ford, Fujitsu, GlaxoSmithKline, HM Revenue and Customs, Hewlett Packard, IBM, John Lewis, Lloyds Banking Group, Network Rail and Tata Consulting Services. The academic side of the courses will be provided by universities including Aston, Exeter, Greenwich, Loughborough, Manchester Metropolitan, University College London, the University of the West of England and Winchester.
Christine Hodgson, the UK chairman of Capgemini, said that the scheme would “enable young people to build the academic and practical skills needed for success in the tech sector and help create the talent needed to boost the digital economy”. Richard Pettinger, the director of information management for business degree programmes at UCL, stated the university was delighted to work with employers and government on the new qualifications “to help increase the flow of skills into the tech industry”. The school’s head teachers have also welcomed the scheme – Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders characterised it as “a really interesting development in the growing range of alternatives to traditional university courses”.
Mr Lightman stated; “There is massive demand for recruits to these industries who are highly skilled and knowledgeable.” He went on to say that it was very important that enough information and guidance on the new options was available to schools. The government is hoping that if this programme is a success in the digital field, it could be extended to some of the other industries.