A scheme which gives people the chance to study for university level qualifications while in paid full-time employment is being expanded into two new Schools at Edinburgh Napier University.
The university’s first cohort of Graduate Apprenticeships (GA) was launched in the School of Computing in May last year to help meet employers’ demands for digital skills.
Now the university is expanding its GA portfolio into the School of Engineering and the Built Environment and the Business School, with 90 new places available across all three schools from September.
Programmes have been created and developed in partnership with Skills Development Scotland with support from the European Social Fund, in order to tackle skills gaps in Scottish businesses.
Anyone over the age of 16 who lives in Scotland is eligible and there are no course fees to pay for apprentices or employers. Participants spend approximately 80 per cent of their time in work and 20 per cent in university, and can qualify for entry based on both academic and relevant work experience. Employers can either hire new recruits or upskill existing staff.
Graduate Apprenticeships represent a key strategic step in strengthening Edinburgh Napier’s business engagement.
In September 2017, the first cohort of GAs began their journey to a degree across three courses in the School of Computing; IT Management for Business, Software Development and Cyber Security.
The programme has proved popular among local businesses, and GAs have been able to grasp opportunities to combine work and study that may otherwise have been unavailable to them. The apprentices have thrived and performed well in their work-based learning environment, achieving excellent results and attendance in university.
From September, the expansion of the programme will see Edinburgh Napier offering new GAs in Civil Engineering, Construction and the Built Environment and Business Management up to honours degree level.
Scott Killen, Employer Liaison Manager for Graduate Apprenticeships within the School of Computing at Edinburgh Napier, said: “Graduate Apprenticeships not only offer employers the opportunity to bridge vital industry skills gaps through creating additional talent pipelines, they also provide individuals with a fantastic platform to put their learning into practice in real life situations.
“With the courses being fully funded for both employers and apprentices, this also gives individuals who would not otherwise have had easy access to a university education a real chance to gain an honours degree whilst in a paid, full-time job. This can be of benefit to people such as women returners, career changers as well as Foundation and Modern Apprentices.”
Jonathan Clark, Director of Service Design and Innovation at Skills Development Scotland, also highlighted the opportunities for both apprentices and employers.
He said: “Graduate Apprenticeships have the potential to transform the way that young people access further and higher education, and it’s clear from the demand that many companies and universities feel the same way.
“Graduate Apprentices will be employed during their studies and because much of the learning takes place in the workplace they will have the opportunity to immediately apply what they learn at college or university in their jobs – and vice versa.
“This provides opportunities for employers to help shape the skills of their employees and to address skills shortages affecting their industry and the local economy.”