Degree apprenticeships: added value for universities and business

7 Mar 2018

In National Apprenticeship Week 2018 (5-9 March), Stella McKnight, Director of Employer Partnerships at the University of Winchester, outlines the way the University is working with business to develop and deliver the new breed of degree apprenticeship programmes to foster the next generation of top digital and management talent.

The launch of degree apprenticeships in 2015, which encompass studying for a university degree alongside work-based practical training and experience, marks an exciting time for business and higher education providers alike.

This is especially true at Winchester where we have a strong track record in delivering employer-led programmes and where we are leading the way in delivering programmes in Digital Technology Solutions that are meeting the needs of industry employers and apprentices.

We work in close collaboration with our partner employers to find out exactly what they want - whether that's developing new talent or upskilling their existing workforce - and we tailor our programmes to ensure that apprentices develop the high-level skills and knowledge they need to further their careers and to become digital specialists who are in tune with the future needs of their industry.

Our programmes maintain the excellent standards and high-levels of teaching and learning students need to attain a degree from Winchester and students benefit from the University's 175 years of experience in delivering values-driven higher education since its foundation in 1840.

We currently work in partnership with a number of partner employers to support them in attracting and retaining their top digital talent, including Fujitsu; CGI; Marketing Sciences Ltd; Transactor Global Solutions; Quicksilva systems integration solutions; and OceanWise.

In September 2017, the Chartered Management Institute accredited the University as an approved centre to deliver the Chartered Manager degree apprenticeship programme, which offers a triple guarantee of a degree, on the job experience and professional Chartered Manager status.

A report by Universities UK (UUK) on the future growth of degree apprenticeships is optimistic that these programmes can play a key role in reducing skills gaps and skills mismatches. But to achieve this, it's vital that businesses and universities work closely together.

The advantages for both are abundantly clear.

For universities, degree apprenticeships build on the work that institutions already do to deliver graduate skills that employers need and are an innovative way to ensure that what we deliver on campus meets the needs of employers, the local area and apprentices. They are also an opportunity for us to develop new and long-lasting relationships with partner employers.

For employers, degree apprenticeships present a fantastic opportunity to develop the talent they need to meet business goals. They are a powerful recruitment tool, allowing employers to attract and retain the best talent into the organisation - especially when competition for digital and technical skills is intense. Finally, they have the potential to boost local growth and economic development.

The UUK report also highlighted that there is a still long way to go in communicating to students and employers how degree apprenticeships work and the mutual benefits.

At Winchester, we will continue to explain and promote degree apprenticeships programmes to businesses and potential students. We value the opportunity to strengthen existing relationships and build new collaborations with business and will be building on our existing successful degree apprenticeship programmes in the future. It certainly is an exciting time.

Employers interested in finding out more about partnering with the University of Winchester to develop a degree apprenticeship programme should email:


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