UofG welcomes first graduate apprentices to IT software development degree

Issued: Tue, 29 Oct 2019 09:00:00 GMT

A Graduate Apprentice degree programme which offers future software engineers a level of professional training similar to that of doctors, vets and dentists is welcoming its first cohort of learners to the University of Glasgow. 

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The University’s School of Computing Science has signed up 34 Graduate Apprentices from 10 private and public-sector employers for its new Graduate Apprenticeship (GA) in IT: Software Development degrees, developed in partnership with Skills Development Scotland and employers with support from the European Social Fund. 

Drawn from a wide range of age and experience, from recent school-leavers to high-level athletes who have represented Scotland in football and karate competitions, they will be officially welcomed to their new course at an event at the University tonight (Tuesday 29 October).

Each Graduate Apprentice will spend the next four years alternating between working with their employer and studying at the University. They will have the opportunity to specialise in cyber security, data science or systems engineering before they graduate with a BSc (Hons) degree in IT:Software Development – all while earning a wage and incurring no student debt.

Professor Quintin Cutts from the University of Glasgow is an internationally renowned expert in computing science education, and director of the University’s Centre for Computing Science Education. He worked in close consultation with 25 employers for more than a year to develop the GA degree programme.

Professor Cutts said: “Computing science and software engineering are vitally important skills which we believe should be viewed as professions on a par with medicine, veterinary science and dentistry. To that end, we’ve developed a brand-new Graduate Apprenticeship degree programme which draws inspiration from the way those subjects are taught, where students spend a great deal of time gaining practical experience in real workplace environments. 

“We spent a lot of time asking employers what they needed from computing science students to address existing skills gaps and provide graduates who are ready to excel in the workplace. 

“We’re confident that we’ve found a new way to do that, by giving students more time in the classroom in the first few months of their apprenticeship, which will help them find their feet more quickly once they transition to spending more time at work. They’ll have the benefit of learning with their employer, sharing their knowledge with the other graduate apprentices as they go, and studying with some world-class researchers here at the University. 

“After two years of work and study, they’ll have the opportunity to specialise in three areas of software engineering and end up with a degree which is extremely well-tailored to the needs of their employer. We anticipate those apprentices to graduate with a level of skill around 18 months ahead of their contemporaries who have chosen to focus solely onacademic study alone.”

Multinational investment bank and financial services company Barclays are giving their backing to the degree programme, signing up 17 apprentices. 

Scott Stewart, Head of Barclays Scotland, said: “Barclays is delighted to be partnering with Glasgow University for our 2019 cohort of Technology Graduate Apprentices. This helps us secure Early Careers talent locally as we invest in Glasgow as a strategic site for Barclays.”

Kristina Pavlou is a newly-minted graduate apprentice, employed with tech firm VeryConnect. VeryConnect was founded in 2013 by University of Glasgow graduate Kyle White. 

Kristina, 19, said: “I’ve been interested in software engineering since I started playing games on my dad’s laptop years ago and started wondering how they were built – what happens behind the scenes when I click on something?

“I’m really excited to be starting my graduate apprenticeship. I chose to come to the University and work for VeryConnect because the Graduate Apprenticeship degree programme offered so much flexibility in what I could choose to learn. 

“VeryConnect are a small team which feels like a family, so I feel like I’ve had a lot of opportunities to contribute to the company already, and it’s been great to meet the other apprentices. I’ve only just finished my A-levels but some of the others are older and have had other careers, so it’s a varied group and I think we’re going to learn a lot from each other on the course.”

Skills Development Scotland, Director of Service Design and Innovation, Jonathan Clark, said: “The success and growth of Graduate Apprenticeships demonstrates that they are supporting employers to upskill their workforce and giving individuals more opportunities to learn and develop their career whilst in employment. 

“Universities and colleges across the country are widening their choice of Graduate Apprenticeships and Skills Development Scotland will continue to develop subjects that focus on a range of sectors where there is a need for highly skilled jobs.”

The employers who have signed up to the Graduate Apprenticeship degree programme are: 

  • Barclays (17 apprentices)
  • Student Loan Company (6)
  • Leidos (2)
  • University of Glasgow IT Services (2)
  • SQA (2), 
  • TBR Global (1)
  • VeryConnect (1)
  • Klik2Learn (1)
  • NHS Scotland (1)
  • Autorek (1)