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UEA supports businesses in defining degree apprenticeships

Graduation - David Kirkham

From 6 April, all organisations with a payroll of more than £3 million will be legally required to invest 0.5% of their salary bill into funding apprenticeships, with a Government target of three million apprenticeships being in place by 2020.

“Degree apprenticeships offer an exciting new opportunity for businesses and employees alike, and represent a step-change in vocational training,” said Prof Neil Ward, UEA’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Academic). “They are also a great opportunity for UEA to strengthen its partnerships with local businesses and open up the opportunity of a university-level education to a wider group of people.

“While we’ve found that the vast majority of organisations welcome the levy as a way to reinvigorate their learning and development programmes, it also represents a significant investment and requires a lot of thought and planning to get right. That’s why we’re working closely with local businesses to define the content of the apprenticeships they want to offer, as well as hear from organisations, such as Barclays, who are already offering them.

“Degree apprenticeships will create more high-calibre, vocationally trained and experienced graduates, addressing the skills gap and benefitting the wider economy,” added Prof Ward.

“We’re focusing on areas with a vocational bias that have been highlighted by employers, such as health professions like nursing and occupational therapy, engineering and digital technology. Strategic leadership is also in demand from employers, and we can foresee requirements in other fields such as education and social work.”

The University aims to have its first degree apprenticeships in place by 2018, but cannot offer a wide variety of programmes until the Government has approved more standards, something that has been slow in happening and is the mechanism by which employers and providers can start enrolling apprentices. In the last 12 months only three new standards at degree level have been approved for delivery despite approximately 40 being in varying stages of development.

Sophie Gray, UK Apprentice Lead for Aviva, who has been working with UEA, said: “Degree apprenticeships are a perfect way for people to learn a skill, get accreditation and develop their career. This is exciting for people of all ages who maybe haven’t had the opportunity before, or who want to earn and learn at the same time. Everyone deserves opportunity and development, it’s a fundamental part of feeling rewarded and recognised.”

Glen Webster, Area Business Manager at Barclays, Norfolk, said: ”At Barclays, we want people of all ages and backgrounds to consider a career in banking – a sector that we know is traditionally viewed as something that only university graduates work in. That’s why we plan to launch the UK’s first Degree Apprenticeship in Banking – to open up banking to people of all ages and backgrounds, allowing them to earn and learn.”