Government-Backed ‘Degree Apprenticeship’ Scheme To Start With Digital Skills

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

First set of “no fee” apprenticeship schemes will begin next year with an initial focus on digital skills

The Coalition government has announced a new “no fees” apprenticeship scheme that aims to teach young people key skills alongside a full honours degree.

The “degree apprenticeships” will begin in England from September 2015, and will allow young people to learn new digital and software skills whilst working, and also get paid a wage by their employers. The government meanwhile will pay two thirds of the tuition costs and fees, whilst the employer will pay the remaining third.

Digital Skills

The initial apprenticeship qualifications will be in the digital and software field, including software design, business analysis, and technology consultancy.

skillstraining234So far a number of higher education institutions have confirmed their involvement in developing and delivering the courses. This includes Aston University, Loughborough University, Manchester Metropolitan University, University College London, and the universities of Exeter, Greenwich, and the University of the West of England and Winchester.

This coupled with the support from a number of companies including Accenture, BT, Capgemini, Ford, Fujitsu, GlaxoSmithKline, HM Revenue and Customs, Hewlett Packard, IBM, John Lewis, Lloyds Banking Group, Network Rail and Tata Consulting Services. It is thought these companies have so far pledged 150 positions next year.

The degree apprenticeships stems from government collaboration with higher education and industry, Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey was quoted as saying by the BBC. The aim of the scheme is to integrate academic learning at degree level and on-the-job practical training “to ensure that education and training routes are providing the skills which employers need now and in the future”.

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,” Capgemini’s UK chairman Christine Hodgson was quoted by the BBC as saying.

Growing Interest?

Earlier this year, data released from the National Apprenticeship Service revealed that IT apprenticeships in the UK are growing in number thanks to an upsurge of interest in the sector.

That research showed that vacancies for apprenticeships in Information and Communication Technology had increased by 13 percent between August and October 2013 compared to the same period in the previous year.

Apprenticeships are seen as a key way of boosting interest around the IT sector in young people, with several existing schemes already in place. The programmes are being embraced by some major companies, such as Microsoft, which runs a major apprentice scheme, and EE, which has pledged to take on 500 apprentices by 2015.

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