How to access funding to ‘grow-your-own’ digital degree apprentices

From September 2015, employers of all sizes will be able to access funded training to ‘grow their own’ high-level tech and digital staff of the future.

The opportunity is also open to current employees seeking to sharpen their ICT skills and gain a full honours degree alongside their employment, while paying no student fees and earning a wage throughout.

Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) Business School is one of eight universities selected nationally to deliver the new Degree Apprenticeship in Technology Solutions. The government is providing two thirds of the funding for training the degree apprentices.

Other universities working with employers to shape and provide the degrees include: Aston, Exeter, Greenwich, Loughborough, University College London, University of the West of England and Winchester.

Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey said: “This is the latest example of government working in partnership with academia and industry to ensure that education and training routes are providing the skills which employers need now and in the future.”

Liz Gorb, Enterprise Fellow at  MMU Centre for Enterprise, said: “The aim is to integrate academic learning at degree level with work-based training.  Students earn while they learn and come away with skills that are directly relevant to employers, who have an opportunity to instil their own business culture and working style from an early stage. The core content of the degree includes technological support, software development, database management, security and business organisation, but the integrated learning approach of workplace training and assessment makes the course highly flexible to employer demands – whatever the size or sector of the organisation.” 

A number of leading UK companies have already committed to take on digital apprentices.

The new degree apprenticeship is launched as latest figures from the Skills Funding Agency show that demand for ICT apprenticeships is outstripping supply – with ten applicants now chasing each apprenticeship position.

Ben Rowland, Co-Founder of pioneering Digital Marketing and IT apprenticeship programme Arch, said: “It is exciting that the government is increasingly recognising the value of vocational training and education and supporting this with action.  Here at Arch we have developed new IT apprenticeships at Advanced and Higher Levels (equivalent to a Foundation Degree) in Infrastructure Engineering, Business Analysis and Technical Sales, all powered by HP.  We are excited about the prospect of working with universities to create pathways for young people from apprenticeships up into degrees that are attractive to young people and employers alike, and that can be the catalyst for solving the IT skills gap.”