Innovative PwC-Leeds degree apprenticeships to address digital skills gap

A significant partnership between global professional services firm PwC and the University has created a new degree apprenticeship, an innovative way for young people to launch a career in technology.

A significant partnership between global professional services firm PwC and the University has created a new degree apprenticeship, an innovative way for young people to launch a career in technology.

It is one of two degree apprenticeships and one higher apprenticeship developed by the University, in response to a Government drive to bring together the best of higher and vocational training.

Combining invaluable ‘on the job’ training in paid employment with study for a degree qualification, it aims to meet the demands of employers, address skills gaps and enhance UK productivity.

Next generation of technology talent

PwC, one of the UK’s largest graduate employers, is working with the University to create a new fully-funded technology undergraduate degree apprenticeship in computer science. 

One of the first and largest examples of the new degree apprenticeships, the four year BSc course has been designed to help address the UK’s technology skills gap and improve the industry’s diversity. 

PwC research has found over two thirds (67%) of UK chief executives find it difficult to recruit people with digital skills. Separate PwC research found that only 27% of women A-level and university students would consider a career in technology compared to 62% of men.

Professor Peter Jimack, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Leeds, said: “Deepening the relationship between universities and leading private sector businesses is one of the key ways academia can support the UK’s economy.

“By working together we can use the latest research to educate apprentices, who will benefit greatly from also having significant workplace training on top of their academic studies”

“These courses are the latest way we are adapting traditional modes of higher education to create a skilled workforce with the experience needed by employers, who can contribute as soon as they begin work.”

“Apprentices will need to satisfy equivalent rigorous entry criteria as all our other applicants but will benefit from a monthly salary and considerable practical experience from PwC.

"At Leeds we have a long-standing commitment to, and record of success in, attracting students from all backgrounds to study with us and we see this Degree Apprenticeship as being one more example of this commitment."

Initially 40 students will be accepted on to the programme in September 2018. At the end of their studies, students will receive a University of Leeds degree in Computer Science and a job at PwC, if they meet performance criteria. 

Kevin Ellis, chairman and senior partner at PwC, added: “For the UK to prosper post-Brexit we need to invest in creating a vibrant tech sector right across the country and more people with the skills needed to help businesses transform.” 

“People often perceive that all the tech talent needs to be in London, but with our programme we are opening up the opportunities right across the country and to people who may have thought that university or technology careers were out of their reach.”

Leadership and management in healthcare

Using a different approach to best suit employers the University has also entered into a partnership with three other education providers to launch degree apprenticeships in the healthcare sector.

A leadership and management master’s level degree apprenticeship is being developed for Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust to support its employees through their careers and build capacity to meet the needs of the NHS in the long term. It is due to accept apprentices from September 2018.

Dr Helen Smith, Director of Student Education in the University’s School of Healthcare, said: “We have a successful track record in providing high-quality education and training in this area. We are looking forward to working with the trust to develop programmes for senior leaders who will be crucial to the success of the NHS in the coming years.”

Supporting practitioners

Separately, from this September, the University is also launching a Healthcare Assistant Practitioner higher apprenticeship, developed with NHS trusts across Yorkshire.  

Apprentices will study for the University’s Foundation Degree in Healthcare for Assistant Practitioners, aimed at adult learners already working within the NHS in a clinical support worker role. 

It offers the opportunity to develop clinical and professional skills and to understand the theory which underpins workplace practice.

Dr Tony Ellis, Director of the University’s Lifelong Learning Centre, which will deliver the course, said “We are pleased to offer this apprenticeship as part of the local NHS trusts’ commitment to developing their workforce.  The University has a strong reputation with partner Trusts and extensive experience in working with adult learners to help them achieve their potential.” 

A new way to learn

  • Degree apprenticeships are a new approach to learning launched by the previous government, and which serve to link students, employers and universities very closely.
  • Unlike traditional degrees, those studying on degree apprenticeship courses have to be nominated as apprentices by their employers, who will pay their salary and academic fees, rather than applying as individuals.
  • Degree apprenticeships at the University of Leeds are developed in co-operation with individual businesses, firms or organisations to meet their needs whilst ensuring the University’s rigorous standards of research-based teaching are maintained.
  • Students are paid by their employers during the course and take part in extensive work placements whilst studying, and receive a University of Leeds degree upon completing their studies.
  • They have to meet equivalent entry requirements to students studying on traditional degree courses at the University.

Further degree apprenticeships are planned at the University, as the market for this new approach to higher level training and education grows. The University is seeking to work with leading UK and global employers to develop programmes to suit their needs. For further information, contact David Gardner.