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Swansea University celebrates first degree apprenticeship graduates in Wales

Swansea University is this week celebrating the success of the first degree apprenticeship graduates in Wales.

The 14 students have completed a three-year programme in Applied Software Engineering with the University’s Computer Science department.

The Degree Apprenticeship Programme combines traditional academic learning in a university environment with work-based projects allowing the students to apply their newly-acquired academic knowledge within their specific job roles in their companies.

This innovative programme allows the students to learn while remaining in full-time employment. Courses are fully funded for the student, with support from the Institute of Coding (IoC) in Wales and the Welsh Government through the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW).

The IoC in Wales is a major partnership led by Swansea University which is a part of the National Institute of Coding. It was established to address the recognised digital skills gap in the workforce and create the next generation of digital specialists. Originally envisaged as a way to help rectify a ‘skills shortage’ in Computer Science within the region, the Degree Apprenticeship Programme is proving incredibly popular and Swansea University will have over 75 Applied Software Engineering degree apprentices enrolled for the next academic year.

Jonathan Fleming, director of EPS Construction Ltd, saw his employee Paul Finch focus his final year project on designing software that would help solve a problem for the company.

“Paul created a bespoke piece of software that forms part of our back-end financial systems,” he said. “We anticipate that this software will save the company £400,000 a year in recovered contract variances.”

The DVLA, among other organisations, has been involved with and greatly supported the Degree apprenticeship programme from its inception as a Foundation Degree in 2012.

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DVLA Chief Technology Officer Brian Sullivan said: “We’re focussed on recruiting and developing staff across a wide range of roles in IT and I’m always excited about changes and enthusiastic about how we can improve. The apprenticeship scheme allows everyone, whether brand new to IT or working in it for many years, to increase their skills and ensure they can excel both now and in the future.”

Swansea University Pro-Vice Chancellor Professor Martin Stringer added: “We are very pleased that this year we have the first cohort of degree apprenticeships graduating. It is very important in terms of improving the skills of the workforce in the region. We continue to foster excellent links with the wider industry and work with many local companies to upskill their staff. We look forward to helping to develop the skills needed within the industry to improve the economy and build for the digital future.”

If you are an employee or employer and you wish to find out more about the Degree Apprenticeship Programme please contact Maria Moller at [email protected] or phone 01792 606998.

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