Associate feature: Graduate Apprenticeships are a perfect fit for Scotland’s STEM sector

Written by Dr Sally Smith on 22 February 2019 in Comment

Dr Sally Smith, Dean of Computing at Edinburgh Napier University, on how developing new graduate skills is no longer the sole domain of universities

Edinburgh Napier University

Developing new knowledge and expertise is a priority to ensure Scotland can meet the future demand for highly skilled jobs and keep the country at the forefront of STEM.

But developing new graduate skills is no longer the sole domain of universities, instead work-based learning is expanding through further investment in graduate apprenticeship places, where apprentices study up to degree level while in work. Courses combine traditional university education with work-based learning.

And it’s a model that is working – both for the first groups of apprentices in Scotland and for their employers.

Edinburgh Napier’s Graduate Apprenticeships in Cyber Security, Software Development and Information Technology Management for Business were among the first to be funded by Skills Development Scotland. Since then we have expanded our portfolio across Engineering and Business Management subject areas, with the latest additions being courses in BSc (Hons) Data Science and BEng (Hons) Engineering: Design and Manufacture.  These have been designed and developed based on employer skills demand in Scotland.

Our apprenticeships are highly competitive and appealing to high calibre school leavers, Foundation and Modern Apprentices, people returning to study and existing employees looking to upskill. The appeal to organisations is that their apprentices put their skills to use immediately – which helps both apprentices and their employers.

Following on from the successful launch of the first two cohorts of Graduate Apprentices in the School of Computing, School of Engineering and Built Environment and The Business School, Edinburgh Napier University is delighted to be expanding our portfolio of Graduate Apprenticeships.  This year there are a total of 185 places available across subject areas including IT/Digital, Cyber Security, Data, Engineering, Construction and Business Management.

The industry demand in Scotland across STEM disciplines is ever-evolving and expanding, with 72 per cent of employers reporting skills gaps. The turbulence caused by Brexit is another reason to start investing in our workforce and for future business growth.

Programmes such as Graduate Apprenticeships signal the growth of the sector and career opportunities to teachers, parents and school-leavers – helping Scotland to meet this demand head on. Graduate Apprenticeships are a perfect fit for Scotland’s highly successful and burgeoning STEM sector.

Sally Smith is Dean of Computing at Edinburgh Napier University

This piece was sponsored by Edinburgh Napier University

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