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UK's first ever degree apprentices graduating from Aston University

first UK degree apprentices
Aston University graduand James Gee, one of the UK's first degree apprentices

30 June 2017

  • Aston University first higher education institution to offer degree apprenticeships
  • Partnership between Capgemini and University sees industry’s first cohort graduate
  • Initiative allows students to gain degree, work and earn salary with no tuition fees

The UK’s first ever degree apprentices will be graduating from Aston University in July thanks to an unique partnership between the university and the company Capgemini, designed to revolutionise the way young people develop high level skills through apprenticeships.

The first 11 graduands have all achieved a BSc (honours) in Digital and Technology Solutions at a second class degree and above with seven earning a first class degree, following four and a half years of study whilst also working for Capgemini, a global consulting, technology and outsourcing company.

The work-based degree apprenticeship programme is a Tech Partnership-led initiative developed with the Government to enable young people to achieve a degree whilst employed in industry, with their tuition fees paid by the employer.

Professor Ian Nabney, Executive Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science at Aston University, said: “Degree apprenticeships are a valuable option to applicants whose learning style is less suited to a traditional on-campus study route. The difference in delivery, allows them to apply their learning in the workplace rather than the classroom. This offers those with the right skills and aptitudes a challenging but rewarding route to graduate level jobs, while their academic achievement is recognised as being at the same high level as a traditionally-earned degree.”   

The first cohort of degree apprentices will be graduating on 17 July, during the university’s annual graduation week. A further 240 apprentices are currently on the Capgemini Degree Apprenticeship Programme with Aston University for graduation over the next five years. As apprentices with Capgemini, their roles may include software developer, technical applications consultant, insights and data consultant or cyber security. 

Pictured is graduand 24-year-old James Gee, of Charlton, Worcestershire. He said: “I checked the 'find an apprenticeship' site on gov.uk and the description was exactly what I wanted: a sponsored degree programme as a software engineer that would allow me to earn, learn and work all at the same time.

“Every day is different but I always learn something new. I build complex system integrations, web applications and anything that involves custom software. Among the highpoints of the last five years has been winning West Midlands Higher Apprentice of the Year, watching a user of assistive technologies struggle to use an application we built, writing a script that fixed many of the issues and watching her joy at how much easier things were – and a four week holiday in Australia that was only affordable because of my apprenticeship!”

James Jones, aged 25, from Bridgnorth, Shropshire, said: “I’ve gained the salary of a graduate years before I would have graduated taking a traditional bricks and mortar degree. I haven’t paid tuition fees but have been paid a salary to attend virtual lectures and tutorials and to apply this learning instantly in my role as a software developer.

“From the very start of the programme I’ve been working on designing and building software for high profile clients around the country.”

Ruth South, Head of Graduate and Apprenticeship Programmes at Capgemini, said: “We wholeheartedly congratulate 11 of our apprentices on becoming the first graduates of an industry sponsored digital and technology solutions degree – it’s a fantastic achievement highlighting their commitment and landmark not only for us, but for the digital industry as a whole.

“Capgemini’s Degree Apprenticeship Programme is the first of its kind in the industry, and one of many educational initiatives we have in place in our efforts to create pathways to employment for young people of all backgrounds and develop leaders of the future to plug the digital skills gap.

“Our work to develop the next-generation of IT developers, engineers and consultants is something that we have immense pride in. Over the course of this year we will be hiring 100 new degree apprentices in a variety of roles and locations, as we look to build on our hard work to support and inspire young people and unlock their potential, today and for the future.”

ENDS

Notes to the editor

The 11 students are:

Business Analysts: Ali Ahmed and Andre Sobers (both based Holborn, London). Software engineers: Michael Askew* (based Holborn, London), Jack Eker (based Woking), Dan Fox (based Aston, Birmingham), James Gee (based Aston, Birmingham), Satvinder Hullait (based Aston, Birmingham), Alexander Johnson (based Aston, Birmingham), James Jones (based Aston, Birmingham), Greg Wolverson (based Aston, Birmingham) and Callum Wood (based Aston, Birmingham). 

*deferred graduation ceremony to 2018

About Aston University:Founded in 1895 and a University since 1966, Aston University has been always been a force for change. For 50 years the University has been transforming lives through pioneering research, innovative teaching and graduate employability success. Aston is renowned for its opportunity enabler through broad access and inspiring academics, providing education that is applied and has real impact on all areas of society, business and industry.

Aston University is an experienced and leading authority on degree apprenticeships and was heavily involved in the production of a UCAS video, Progression Pathways 2017: degree appreniceships in focusfilmed on the Aston campus and released in June 2017. The video highlights the key progression pathways available to prospective students and aims to raise awareness of all the options.

For more information on Aston University’s role contact: Susi Turner, Press & PR Officer, Aston University on 0121 204 4978 or s.j.turner@aston.ac.uk

For more information on Capgemini, or to request photographs, video clips, case studies or arrange an interview with one of the Capgemini apprentices, contact: Stephanie Kwok at skwok@we-worldwide.com   

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