Tackling the Skills Gap Series

5 posts

Posted July 11, 2017 | Digital Media, Tackling the Skills Gap Series, Technology Industry | No Comments »

[Interview] Tackling the Skills Gap – Jonathan Warner at QA Apprenticeships

As innovation continues to accelerate throughout both SME’s and established businesses, there are well-founded concerns that the distinct lack of skills combined with an ineffective education system could endanger the UK’s growth. Tech City UK recently estimated that “Britain will need an extra 2.287 million digitally skilled workers by 2020 to satisfy the UK’s digital potential.” On top of these figures, Scotland IS have found that 73% of business will seek to hire digital talent locally this year, a 15% increase on last year’s numbers.

With the demand for industry skills only increasing, it’s important to find out what measures are being put in place by key players within the Scottish technology industry to tackle this. Over the following weeks, we will be talking to organisations at the centre of this issue; finding out what they think about the lack of skills within their industry, what they are doing to help, and how the industry can contribute to increasing the number of people in skilled work.

We’re talking to Jonathan Warner, Director of QA Apprenticeships in Scotland, in part V of our Tackling the Skills Gap series this week! Jonathan discusses how QA have developed apprenticeships to suit the needs of the developing technology and digital industries, the response QA’s various apprenticeships have received, why apprenticeships are important and what he thinks the industry can do to help tackle the skills gap.

BIO: QA Apprenticeships is part of QA Ltd, the UK’s leading training provider. With 12 sites across the UK, QA draws on their 30-year heritage in IT training to craft apprenticeships that deliver job-specific skills. Focussing on IT, tech and digital,  92% of their apprentices secure permanent employment after completing; 20% higher than the national average.

 

Interview] Tackling the Skills Gap - Jonathan Warner at QA Apprenticeships


Hi Jonathan, thanks for chatting with us! Can you tell us about the type of apprenticeships that QA have at the moment within the digital sector?

“In recent years we have developed a number of different apprenticeship programmes in the technology and digital space, ranging from technical IT systems and networking programmes to software development, cyber security, data analytics, digital applications, digital marketing and project management programmes. This has allowed over 14,000 people to join the digital or technology workforce or up-skill in their current role since 2009.”

Has the digital skills gap within the industry had an impact on the type of apprenticeships you offer? 

“There has been a decline in the overall amount of technical IT roles required in the IT industry across the UK, this combined with a greater need for new employees to be digitally aware and ready for change has meant that the type of apprenticeship programme that has seen the most growth has come in the digital space.

Until recently, there was not any specific apprenticeship programme that focused solely on “digital skills”. With the advent of the digital applications and marketing programmes, we have seen more appetite from business to participate in recruiting and training both new and existing staff members to be able to enable their business (irrelevant of industry sector) to be ready for any digital changes that they face. This has also had a positive impact on female participation rates, as we see more programmes being developed that encompass a wider variety of content, so too has the numbers of female applicants increased.

With the ever-increasing threats of cyber-attacks on all business and sectors, the need for cyber protection has become far more pressing. This has also lead to business looking at innovative strategies to bring talent into their business and strengthen their current or planned cyber security strategies; apprenticeship programmes have proven to be an excellent way to help tackle this issue.”

What has the response been like within the industry for apprenticeships? 

“Previously, businesses have been used to apprenticeships in more traditional areas such as trades, the rise of modern apprenticeships has come from the changing needs and profile of the businesses that are now present in Scotland today. Education has been key to making this a successful transition; educating businesses about the benefits of participating in an apprenticeship programme as well as educating both the potential apprentices and their parents of the options that are now available to them. The ultimate gauge as to whether an apprenticeship programme is deemed successful or not would be down to the apprentice themselves actually adding value to the business – this, in turn, would then show in repeat participation. On average, over 70% of business once engaged in the apprenticeship programmes re-engage in the future.

We have seen a significant increase in apprenticeships participation by businesses in recent years, mainly due to the fact that there are now programmes that can meet the needs of their business, there are strong indicators that this growth rate will continue in the coming years.”

Why are apprenticeships important in tackling the skills gap?

“Our economy and the future success of it is increasingly becoming more and more reliant on our ability to be both flexible and innovative. In order to ensure that we can react to change, we have to a have a work force that is able to react and thrive in an ever-changing environment. Reducing the digital skills gap that is prevalent in Scotland at present and increasing the skills of both the current and future workforce is essential in making this happen – investing in apprenticeships to help tackle this problem is one part of an overall digital skills gap strategy encompassing, industry, government and education.

Emerging economies and the fact that business is becoming increasingly more mobile shows that if we do not invest now to ensure that this gap is at best reduced, there would be potential for larger threats to our overall economy in coming years.”

 Do you think more could be done throughout the industry to tackle the skills gap?

“The short answer would be yes – however we need to recognise the vast amount of work from a number of different parties, across sectors and industries that have been tackling this issue in recent years, which has had a very positive effect in tackling the digital skills gap.

Ultimately there is a desire and a will from Government to tackle this issue, in order to match the will of the government to tackle the current digital skills gap we require more businesses to become engaged with apprenticeship programmes in general.”

What advice would you give to i) people looking to become involved in an apprenticeship ii) businesses looking to become involved in taking on apprentices?

“There is now a significant amount of business that have already participated in modern apprenticeship programmes across the UK (several thousand in the tech and digital space alone in the past 5 years). One way of finding out if an apprenticeship programme is right for your business is to talk to people in your peer group who have already gone down that journey, this is something that as a training provider we would recommend. Programmes such as this are all about ensuing that the people that are on them are on the right path (both from a business perspective and from a learner journey one). As such, recruitment, selection and investing the right time in choosing the right people to join your programme are essential.

Ultimately, all training providers are contracted via their respective governments to provide a service to companies wishing to participate in apprenticeship programmes, and like all service based industries what is offered and what is available differs. As such, it is essential that you engage with a provider that can meet the needs of your business, spending time with providers and finding out what they offer and what their core business can offer is key to making the programme a success in the long-term.”
Missed earlier posts in this series? Find them here.


Enigma People is an award-winning technology recruitment consultancy. Visit our job search page for the latest vacancies in digital, electronics and software in Scotland. You can get in touch with us hello@enigmapeople.com or call us on 0141 332 4422.

Follow us on Twitter,twitter  Linkedin LinkedInor Facebook Facebook logo to keep up to date with our latest news and vacancies.

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Posted July 04, 2017 | Industry Interviews, Tackling the Skills Gap Series | No Comments »

[Interview] Tackling the Skills Gap – Brian Carmichael at TIGERS

As innovation continues to accelerate throughout both SME’s and established businesses, there are well-founded concerns that the distinct lack of skills combined with an ineffective education system could endanger the UK’s growth. Tech City UK recently estimated that “Britain will need an extra 2.287 million digitally skilled workers by 2020 to satisfy the UK’s digital potential.” On top of these figures, Scotland IS have found that 73% of business will seek to hire digital talent locally this year, a 15% increase on last year’s numbers.

With the demand for industry skills only increasing, it’s important to find out what measures are being put in place by key players within the Scottish technology industry to tackle this. Over the following weeks, we will be talking to organisations at the centre of this issue; finding out what they think about the lack of skills within their industry, what they are doing to help, and how the industry can contribute to increasing the number of people in skilled work.

Part IV of our Tackling the Skills Gap series, we’re talking to TIGERS apprenticeship manager, Brian Carmichael, to find out how they are approaching the issues of the skills gap within the industry. Brian discusses TIGER’s Modern Apprenticeships and plans for the future, the response and engagement levels from businesses, how the technology industry has changed and what he thinks the industry can do to help tackle the skills gap.

BIO: Established in 2001, TIGERS provide training and employment brokering, they are specialists in the training and preparation of young people aged 16-24 for entry into a range of sectors including Business Administration and the Mechanics industries. At the moment, TIGERS run and deliver a variety of Employability and Industry Specific Training Programmes and Modern Apprenticeships funded by Skills Development Scotland in areas presently including Glasgow, Renfrewshire, East Dunbartonshire, West Dunbartonshire and South Lanarkshire.

TIGERS logo


Hi Brian, we know that TIGERS have two Digital Marketing Modern Apprenticeships running at the moment which is brilliant! Can you tell us a bit about these, please? 

“TIGERS currently have 2 Digital Marketing Modern Apprentices, one working for Training Initiatives – our Employability and Modern Apprenticeship delivery; and the other TIGERS STA – our joint venture with FTSE 200 construction business Carillion Plc. We felt both businesses required the support of a Digital Marketing Modern Apprentice to showcase the success of our business and also increase user reach to open up our opportunities to more young people – who better to do this than the young people themselves! Both Modern Apprentices, Caitlin and Kirsten are doing fantastic, they have been operating in dual Administrative/Digital role, having team members who are flexible is vital in today’s working environments and this has already led to them becoming key members of their respective teams. Caitlin (24 years old) and Kirsten (19 years old) bring a cocktail of youth, energy and fresh ideas to our marketing meetings all which have lead to many new digital activities and social media platforms being introduced over the last 6 months.”

What was the response like from companies within the industry when you were trying to place the apprenticeships? 

“TIGERS made a commitment to employ at least 2 Modern Apprentices, however, when contacting external businesses about Modern Apprenticeship opportunities it proved very difficult. Very few of those contacted wanted to discuss the Apprenticeship pathway in regards to their recruitment and I found that their reasoning usually surrounded the fact the apprentices would need a large element of on the job training – crazy in my opinion, through this method you can ensure the employee adopts your values, ways of working and good practices.”

How do you think the technology industry has changed in more recent years? 

“There is a real skills shortage in regards to digital skills at the moment and all industries need an influx of new entrants to keep up with the public/commercial demand of communication through these digital platforms. However in my recent experience of promoting Digital Marketing Modern Apprenticeships I found that businesses were reluctant to adopt the recruitment pathway of employing a Modern Apprentice – again having worked in a business who has engaged with over 1500 Modern Apprentices over the last 10 years I find this hard to believe, the opportunity to shape and prepare an employee for exact needs of your business, what’s not to like! The industry has a lot of employees who are self-taught, and in no way am I dismissing their skills and knowledge however to meet the needs of the current skills shortage I believe we must look at new entrants from as early as schools leavers. When I did an autopsy of my recruitment drive for Digital Marketing Modern Apprentices I came to the conclusion that it was often the idea of young people being given the responsibility of operating social media accounts (who knows social media better than young people?) or alternatively the idea of staff taking the time to train the Modern Apprentices on the job. Unfortunately, this short-sighted approach to workforce development is detrimental to producing a future workforce equipped with the digital skills necessary to meet needs of the consumer.”

Do you have any plans to introduce more courses within digital?

“TIGERS will be operating a Business and Digital Marketing Pre-Apprenticeship programme in July. The delivery model is designed to equip learners with the administrative and digital skills needed to enter a workplace and undertake a role as Digital Marketing Modern Apprentice making a positive impact on business outcomes from the outset. The programme includes 10-week employability, administrative and digital skills training at our training centre covering learning outcomes such as Certificate of Work Readiness, PC Passport, image/video editing, using analytics to analyse and report data and an introduction to coding. On successful completion of this training plan, each learner is then matched with a suitable work experience provider to gain valuable on the job experience. This is where the employers come in, there are at this point no commitments to employing the learner, however, TIGERS are looking to engage with employers that if the right learner enters their business and shows all the attributes they are looking for over a 6-8 week period would offer sustainable job opportunities.”

What advice would you give to the industry when trying to remedy the issue of the skills gap?

“I think the businesses need to embrace the current skills & training options available to them… Be brave and inspirational… brave enough to employ a young person as a Modern Apprentice and inspirational in terms of providing them with a working environment that will help them to grow, both as a person and in their role as a Digital Marketing Modern Apprentice – through nurturing the young person, allow them to embrace your company values and provide them with key digital skills needed to promote for your business.”

 

 

Missed earlier posts in this series? Find them here.


Enigma People is an award-winning technology recruitment consultancy. Visit our job search page for the latest vacancies in digital, electronics and software in Scotland. You can get in touch with us hello@enigmapeople.com or call us on 0141 332 4422.

Follow us on Twitter,twitter  Linkedin LinkedInor Facebook Facebook logo to keep up to date with our latest news and vacancies.

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Posted June 27, 2017 | Industry Interviews, Tackling the Skills Gap Series, Technology Industry | No Comments »

[Guest Blog] Tackling the Skills Gap – City of Glasgow College

As innovation continues to accelerate throughout both SME’s and established businesses, there are well-founded concerns that the distinct lack of skills combined with an ineffective education system could endanger the UK’s growth. Tech City UK recently estimated that “Britain will need an extra 2.287 million digitally skilled workers by 2020 to satisfy the UK’s digital potential.” On top of these figures, Scotland IS have found that 73% of business will seek to hire digital talent locally this year, a 15% increase on last year’s numbers.

With the demand for industry skills only increasing, it’s important to find out what measures are being put in place by key players within the Scottish technology industry to tackle this. Over the following weeks, we will be talking to organisations at the centre of this issue; finding out what they think about the lack of skills within their industry, what they are doing to help, and how the industry can contribute to increasing the number of people in skilled work.

In part III of this series, we’re bringing you a great guest blog from Douglas Morrison, the STEM and Innovation Project Lead at City of Glasgow College (COCG). Douglas discusses the challenges faced by COGC surrounding the STEM skills gap, what they are doing to tackle this, the opportunities STEM presents to the industry and how COGC are supporting their students and working with industry to ensure their students graduate with the skills that are in demand.

BIO: Douglas is an experienced educator with a history of working in the further and higher education sector. His areas of interest include gender equality issues, STEM, innovation, digital disruption, educational policy and technology enhanced learning. He is currently the STEM and Innovation Project Lead at City of Glasgow College having previously acted as the College’s Industry Academy Head for STEM.Douglas holds a Masters Degree in Educational Technology and ePortfolio and is a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) candidate researching gender, habitus and games based learning at the University of Strathclyde. He is a Fellow of Institute for Innovation and Knowledge Exchange (FIKE) and co-founder of Adaptive Design Glasgow, a charitable organisation designing and manufacturing assistive aids for disabled children and victims of humanitarian disasters using cardboard.

 

COGC logo


City of Glasgow College is a pioneering Super College based in an award-winning twin site super-campus in the centre of Glasgow. With over 30,000 students and 1300 staff, the College is committed to “Letting Learning Flourish” through a culture of inspiration, excellence and innovation. The College’s Industry Academy Model ensures the curriculum portfolio is responsive to labour market growth in key economic sectors through the adoption of innovative products and services. By making a clear commitment to the development of students and staff through impactful collaboration with industrial partners, the STEM Industry Academy has supported thousands of graduates into employment or on to higher levels of study.

The College was awarded STEM Assured status in August 2015 in recognition of the economic value and social benefit its STEM activity brings to students and industrial partners. Its STEM Manifesto makes a number of commitments towards the development of inclusive and sustainable growth within the STEM vocational, technical and professional career pathways.

One of the most significant challenges facing colleges in Scotland is the need to remain responsive to a rate of industrial change, wrought by technological advancements, that has never before been experienced. In addition to ensuring the curriculum offer remains fit-for-purpose and aligned to modern industrial practices, we must also consider the skills and attributes our graduates need to succeed in the workplace.  The College’s Industry Academy Model ensures that regular communication is maintained with our employer stakeholders who are encouraged to both co-design and co-deliver our curriculum. With this approach, the City of Glasgow College is not only responsive to anticipated change but also acts as a strategic change agent within the Greater Glasgow region as well as further afield.

The technical skills gap within the STEM sector is widening as growth within Scotland’s key economic sectors demands work ready, technically capable and digitally literate graduates with high STEM capacities. I do not believe that there is a simple solution to addressing the skills gap but I do believe that the development of an accessible and inclusive multi-stakeholder career pathway is vital. The work done by organisations such as Primary Engineer and the Engineering Development Trust inspires young people to explore STEM careers. EQUATE Scotland champion equality of access and opportunity for aspiring women STEM professionals and skills and funding agencies are transforming policies and incentivising employers to widen their recruitment talent pool.  At City of Glasgow College, we recognise the value such partners bring to our students and stakeholders and have reaped the benefits that partnership working brings to our STEM offer.

I believe that the college sector as a whole is well placed to support employers to develop their workforce to meet future demands. The long-established modern apprenticeship (MA) framework and the philosophy of “earn and learn” supports employers and educators to collaboratively develop apprentices who are fully immersed in company values and systems of work whilst successfully achieving globally recognised qualifications.  The extension of the apprenticeship framework to Foundation Apprenticeships aimed at senior phase school pupils interested in following a vocational pathway as well as Graduate Level Apprenticeships will likely facilitate a more balanced and sustainable flow of talent into the STEM sector. The College’s apprenticeship provision cuts across a variety of STEM occupations and with such a diverse number of apprenticeship pathways available, there is a clear route to industry available for everyone.

As the College’s Industry Academy Model continues to evolve we stand on the cusp of what many analysts have referred to as the fourth industrial revolution. The increased adoption of computerisation, automation and robotics as well better collation and utilisation of data is transforming the way our industry operates and has profound implications for our developing workforce. Our graduates are expected to have multiple careers in multiple sectors, some of which have not yet been identified or are in the early stages of developments.

A recent report by the World Economic Forum found that employers are becoming less focused on occupational specific skillsets and are instead seeking wider transferable skills such as the ability to solve complex problems, interpret data, manage projects effectively and work as part of a diverse and flexible team.  This expectation has a profound impact on the way in which we deliver our educational programmes as an increased focus on active and blended learning methodologies are applied within the context of project and problem-based learning. Indeed, the College’s City Learning Model is structured to guide our students through a personalised and contextualised learning experience that is focused on personal development and STEM capacity building.

Our students have expectations of anytime, anywhere learning on flexible learning programmes that will deliver them into an employment opportunity. To achieve this, we need employers to continue to work with us to identify established, emerging and projected skills gaps, discuss recruitment processes, shape our curriculum offer and support us to design world class learning spaces that exceed industry standards. We need our awarding bodies and accrediting agencies to remain responsive to projected labour market changes and to offer a greater degree of flexibility in curriculum delivery to allow for multidisciplinary working on live projects.

The City of Glasgow College is committed to the creation of a collaborative ecosystem of STEM stakeholders determined to realise the potential of Scotland’s developing workforce. I believe that our Industry Academy Model is an effective vehicle for impactful change that will offer our developing workforce positive career development opportunities. As the College continues to redefine the technical and professional educational experience in Scotland it has never been a better time to pursue a career in STEM.

 

Missed the any in this series? You can find them all here.


Enigma People is an award-winning technology recruitment consultancy. Visit our job search page for the latest vacancies in digital, electronics and software in Scotland. You can get in touch with us hello@enigmapeople.com or call us on 0141 332 4422.

Follow us on Twitter,twitter  Linkedin LinkedInor Facebook Facebook logo to keep up to date with our latest news and vacancies.

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Posted June 20, 2017 | Industry Interviews, Tackling the Skills Gap Series | No Comments »

[Interview] Tackling the Skills Gap – City of Glasgow College

As innovation continues to accelerate throughout both SME’s and established businesses, there are well-founded concerns that the distinct lack of skills combined with an ineffective education system could endanger the UK’s growth. Tech City UK recently estimated that “Britain will need an extra 2.287 million digitally skilled workers by 2020 to satisfy the UK’s digital potential.” On top of these figures, Scotland IS have found that 73% of business will seek to hire digital talent locally this year, a 15% increase on last year’s numbers.

With the demand for industry skills only increasing, it’s important to find out what measures are being put in place by key players within the Scottish technology industry to tackle this. Over the following weeks, we will be talking to organisations at the centre of this issue; finding out what they think about the lack of skills within their industry, what they are doing to help, and how the industry can contribute to increasing the number of people in skilled work.

In part II of this series, we’re chatting to Steven Murray, Head of Academies for the Faculty of Business, to understand how City of Glasgow College is tackling the skills gap. We find out about the Faculty of Business Industry Academics, their Modern Apprenticeships and what Steven thinks the industry can do to support academia.

BIO: Steven Murray is Head of the Academies for the Faculty of Business which are working to support employer-based projects promoting learning by development and employability training through the embedding of work-related skills. Steven is a Scottish Government Consultant for the Scottish Equality and Diversity strategy (eHealth Directorate), a published academic and key note speaker on Legal Training and Education at the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, the International Institute Amsterdam and is a permanent member of the Legal Education and Development Scotland (‘LEADS’) group.

 

COGC logo - [Interview] Tackling the Skills Gap - City of Glasgow College


Hi Steven! Can you tell us a bit about Faculty of Business Industry Academies within City of Glasgow College, please?

“Working directly with local and both national and international Industry partners, City of Glasgow Industry Academies provide a broad, industry relevant focused curriculum to maximise student attainment and employability.  Created upon a cross-curricular structure, Industry Academies provide high-quality education and training delivering essential sector relevant skills and values and behaviours to ensure that graduates are work ready for their chosen area of employment or progression to Higher Education.  Benefiting from their integral links with Industry, Service and Commerce, Industry Academies are responsive to the needs of all sectors.”

What do you hope the impact to be on the industry?

“We are placing skilled, work-ready graduates and undergraduates into full time and paid internships across a wide range of sectors. Our City of Glasgow people are delivering an enthusiastic and flexible talent pipeline that will fuel existing and emerging sectors with a diverse and currency of aptitudes and cross transferable skills.  We are working towards providing the skills base for the future of Glasgow and the nation.”

Could you tell us about the Modern Apprenticeships CoGC run?

“City of Glasgow College offer a number of Modern Apprenticeships to learners aged 16+ which is an opportunity to gain qualifications in a number of business areas whilst actively engaged in paid employment. Modern Apprentices gain skills and qualifications without having to study full-time. Modern Apprenticeship frameworks are designed by employers for employers. A trainee will be given the opportunity to develop essential skills and knowledge in that area and this will ensure the essential combination of theory and practical application of skills is both right for them and for their parent organisation. Through their Training Plan, the trainee and the college are committed to the trainee’s progression and continuing professional development.  Many business sectors have identified a need for Modern Apprenticeships due to an ageing workforce and difficulty in recruiting and attracting new entrants. In addition, employers are often unaware of the career opportunities available within their own areas of industry and many, such as careers within the supply chain is often seen as the “invisible industry”. The skills gained through completion of a Level 3 Modern Apprenticeship will help address these skills shortages.

In addition as an added incentive, the parent organisation and the trainee will each receive a bonus payment of £100 on completion of the framework. A link to our current Modern Apprenticeships is here.

We would encourage anyone who can to attend the next Scotland Policy Conferences Keynote Seminar: Next Steps for Apprenticeships and Skills Development in Scotland, which will take place on the morning of Wednesday, 6th December 2017 in Central Edinburgh.”

What do you think about the lack of skills within the STEM landscape?

“City of Glasgow College and its STEM Academy is addressing and meeting local and national priorities to promote and enrich the current national lack of engagement, enjoyment and promotion of STEM subjects and STEM Curriculums.  Our STEM Academy is actively engaging with external partners to further the collaboration between schools, colleges, universities and industry to address the current lack of awareness and understanding of STEM subjects within business, commerce and everyday life. Vocational pathways have been created culminating in new progression and career opportunities for learners and in doing so seek to increase the attainment, performance and success which is currently lacking in these areas and to deliver those skill sets into industry both locally and nationally.  The STEM Academy is filling the current skills gap to allow successful transitions into a vibrant sector through the use of Apprenticeships which will effectively benefit from the involvement of industry in education and training.  City of Glasgow College is increasing awareness within students and teaching staff to diminish the lack of awareness of possible progression and career opportunities within the STEM subjects and in doing so increase the confidence within those undertaking those subjects improving possible attainment.”

What would you say industry can do to help academia?

“Working directly with us here at City of Glasgow College industry sectors can have a meaningful and creative input into the design and delivery of our world class curriculum. Students and staff benefit from engaging with industry-led projects that see learners undertake challenges that reflect real time scenarios and factual circumstances whilst embedding the core skills and understanding necessary for those learners to progress into their chosen vocational areas.  Sectors can have a direct influence into the learning and teaching delivered to their future employees today.”

What future plans do you have for your department?

“The Faculty will be supporting the new College initiatives across a number of performance areas to further enhance the world-class learning and teaching delivered to our learners, to work together and further enhance industry and sector links and to deliver further enhanced professional learning and training cooperatively with international partners.  This will also provide enhanced opportunities for staff to engage with and benefit from our industry projects and international presence across numerous business areas.”

 

Missed the first in this series? Take a look at it here.


Enigma People is an award-winning technology recruitment consultancy. Visit our job search page for the latest vacancies in digital, electronics and software in Scotland. You can get in touch with us hello@enigmapeople.com or call us on 0141 332 4422.

Follow us on Twitter,twitter  Linkedin LinkedInor Facebook Facebook logo to keep up to date with our latest news and vacancies.

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Posted May 23, 2017 | Industry Interviews, Tackling the Skills Gap Series, Technology Industry | No Comments »

[Interview] Tackling the Skills Gap – UWS’s Graduate Level Apprenticeships

As innovation continues to accelerate throughout both SME’s and established businesses, there are well-founded concerns that the distinct lack of skills combined with an ineffective education system could endanger the UK’s growth. Tech City UK recently estimated that “Britain will need an extra 2.287 million digitally skilled workers by 2020 to satisfy the UK’s digital potential.” On top of these figures, Scotland IS have found that 73% of business will seek to hire digital talent locally this year, a 15% increase on last year’s numbers.

With the demand for industry skills only increasing, it’s important to find out what measures are being put in place by key players within the Scottish technology industry to tackle this. Over the next month, we will be talking to organisations at the centre of this issue; finding out what they think about the lack of skills within their industry, what they are doing to help, and how the industry can contribute to increasing the number of people in skilled work.

In the first of our interview series, we’re talking to Professor Ian Allison, Dean of School of Engineering and Computing at the University of the West of Scotland. We’re finding out about the recent introduction of Graduate Level Apprenticeships; BSc (Hons) Software Development and BEng (Hons) Engineering Design & Manufacture in conjunction with Skills Development Scotland as a response to the increasing demand for skills…

UWS         SDS


 

Hi, Professor Allison! Can you tell us a bit about the Graduate Level Apprenticeships and how they came about please? 

“UWS, and specifically the School of Engineering & Computing, is delighted to be working with Skills Development Scotland, industry and our college partners to create new ways for employees to gain the skills and qualifications they, and their employers, need.

Graduate Level Apprenticeships provide an opportunity to change the way employers and individuals access degree-level education. By combining degree-level qualifications with real-time practical experience of the world of work, we are delivering industry-relevant skills and qualifications.

3 out of 4 employers in Scotland report critical skill shortages that are affecting their productivity and growth. These skill shortages are impacting on key industry sectors – including IT and engineering – and the wider Scottish economy. Further, more than 70% of Scottish employers think that job applicants lack technical, practical or job specific skills.

Based on this evidence of industry need we will launch our first 2 GLA programmes– BSc (Hons) Software Development and BEng (Hons) Engineering Design & Manufacture – in September.

GLAs offer a new pathway which combines academic knowledge with work-based skills development to enable apprentices to quickly become effective and productive in the work place. They have been developed in partnership with industry to ensure that the learning is relevant for the world of work and that apprentices can put their learning into practice right away.”

What do you see the impact of these apprenticeships being across the industry?

“GLAs provide a new route into degree-level study for school leavers who want to go straight into work, for young people completing a Foundation or Modern Apprenticeship, and for existing employees (of any age) who have work experience but not a University degree.

For individuals, GLAs provide an opportunity to access the same learning opportunities as those who follow the traditional route of direct entry into University, whilst gaining practical work experience and, because they are in paid employment, without incurring debt. Our delivery model will also facilitate accreditation to industry standards, such as the Engineering Council Competence & Commitment Standards for Incorporated Engineers, which will support their future professional development.

For employers, they can customise their employee’s learning to ensure the best fit with their business needs and because the apprentices spend the majority of their time in the workplace, they are contributing to the productivity of the business at a much earlier point in time. The end result is “industry ready” graduates who understand their business. Offering Graduate Level Apprenticeships is also an excellent way for employers to maximise their return from the Apprenticeship Levy.

In addition to industry input to the development of both of our GLA programmes, we have also worked closely with our 3 college partners – Ayrshire College, Glasgow Clyde College and New College Lanarkshire. This tripartite model is unique to GLAs in Scotland and will help to create a seamless pathway from school through Modern Apprenticeships and further education to degree-level qualifications.”

How has the industry responded to the announcement of the GLA’s? 

“UWS has a long tradition of industrial partnership. This collaborative approach has underpinned the development of our unique GLA delivery model. Because the GLA programmes have been developed in partnership with industry, employers recognise the relevance of the skills that the apprentices will develop and welcome the ability to tailor their apprentice’s learning to meet the specific needs of their business.

Our industry awareness events and 1:1 meetings with prospective employers have been encouraging and we have a number of employers who have already committed to the programme, some anticipating recruiting more than one apprentice.

We anticipate that demand for the programme will increase year on year as more people become aware of the GLA programme and the benefits to both industry and individuals.”

What other programmes have you got planned within the University?

“We will launch our first 2 GLA programmes in September – BSc (Hons) Software Development and BEng (Hons) Engineering Design & Manufacture. Skills Development Scotland will shortly announce a second round of bidding for GLAs for 2018/19 and we will consider which of these frameworks to bid for based on evidence of industry demand and our own subject expertise.”

What can the industry do to help academia?

“We would like to hear direct from any employer who is interested in exploring how their business can benefit from the GLA programme. We would also welcome the opportunity to talk to industry stakeholders who would like to work with us to promote the GLA programmes to a wider industry audience.

Our GLA team can be contacted directly at apprenticeships@uws.ac.uk

Further information can also be found at www.uws.ac.uk/apprenticeships

 


Enigma People is an award-winning technology recruitment consultancy. Visit our job search page for the latest vacancies in digital, electronics and software in Scotland. You can get in touch with us hello@enigmapeople.com or call us on 0141 332 4422.

Follow us on Twitter,twitter  Linkedin LinkedInor Facebook  to keep up to date with our latest news and vacancies.

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