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The Government has launched a new "degree apprenticeship" aimed at encouraging more young people to join the technology industry.
Under the scheme, young people will be able to gain a full honours degree while earning a wage. The Government will pay two-thirds of the costs and fees, up to a maximum cap (which is still to be confirmed). Employers will help meet the cost of the remaining third, and will pay the apprentice a wage while they study.
So far, a host of companies including Accenture, BT, Capgemini, HMRC and IBM have guaranteed 150 places on the scheme, which will cover subjects such as software design and information technology.
Universities signing up to the scheme include Aston, Exeter, Greenwich, Loughborough, Manchester Metropolitan and University College London.
The apprenticeships will prepare students for careers ranging from business analysis to software development and technology consultancy. The degree will test both academic learning and on-the-job practical training, and has been co-created by employers and universities.
Initially, the degree apprenticeships will focus on building digital talent, but they may be extended to other industries, according to digital economy minister Ed Vaizey, who said that the Government wanted “to ensure that education and training routes are providing the skills which employers need now and in the future”.
A survey by the CBI last year found that 39% of employers struggled to find staff with the appropriate skills in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects, and 41% thought this shortage would continue to be an issue over the next three years.
Commenting on the launch of the new apprenticeships, Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of Schools and College Leaders, said: “There is massive demand for recruits to these industries who are highly skilled and knowledgeable.”
Capgemini's UK chairman Christine Hodgson, who is on the board of technology employer body Tech Partnership, welcomed the new scheme, saying it would "enable young people to build the academic and practical skills needed for success in the tech sector and help create the talent needed to boost the digital economy".