Employers back graduate networking initiative

Work to build better links between employers and academia has begun with the
unveiling of the Graduate Apprenticeship National Network (Gann)

Launched by the University Vocational Awards Council (UVAC) and the NTO
National Council, Gann is designed to help boost graduate employability.
Lifelong Learning and Higher Education Minister Margaret Hodge has lent her
support to the initiative, which is welcomed by business and HE.

So far 50 universities and businesses from 36 sectors have participated in
Graduate Apprenticeships. Explaining the need for such a network, Adrian
Anderson, Director of Policy and Development at NTO National Council, said:
"The large number of HE institutions and NTOs involved in Graduate
Apprenticeships means that there is a growing need to develop national support
mechanisms, identify and disseminate good practice and promote the initiative.
The network will help Graduate Apprenticeships to develop as a co-ordinated
initiative and strengthen their potential to enhance the employability of
students and support higher education in responding to employer skills

Gann will be a vehicle for NTOs and HE staff to work together. Its
objectives include sharing advice and guidance on developing Graduate
Apprenticeship frameworks, collating information at national level and
developing GAs to aid progression. It will also compile a directory to include
frameworks and case studies from employers and Graduate Apprentices themselves.

BP is looking closely at Graduate Apprenticeships as a complementary
approach to developing people for senior management roles.

Training consultant with BP UK Retail John Browning believes it could be a
way of removing the glass ceiling for site managers whose working environment
does not allow them to meet the requirements of NVQ Level 4.

"We recruit a lot of direct-entry graduates who get on and have great
careers in the company, but there are others who don’t have that academic
background yet have potential, and they ought to be able to get on too,"
Browning said.

"What Graduate Apprenticeships might be able to do for those people is
provide the work-based route they need, based on academic study with job
competence involved, to move into senior roles. We don’t want to replace NVQs
but the value of Level 4-type people is more to do with the intellectual
capabilities you get from a degree and for many, Graduate Apprenticeships may
be more appropriate."

Carl Gilleard, CEO of the Association of Graduate Recruiters, said:
"Graduate Apprenticeship is an initiative we welcome because of the
vocational focus within degrees. The expansion of HE over the past decade needs
to be accompanied by a more diverse range of offerings and for some students
Graduate Apprenticeships are going to be most appropriate. The network is
something we would support in principle as a bridge-building exercise, where
employers and academic staff can work together and better understand each
other. We hope it takes the employability agenda forward."

By Elaine Essery

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