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by Sally Smith
27 March 2017
Tech 100: ‘Graduate-level apprenticeships are a perfect fit for Scotland’s tech growth roadmap’

Tech 100: ‘Graduate-level apprenticeships are a perfect fit for Scotland’s tech growth roadmap’

Sally Smith, Dean of Computing, Edinburgh Napier University - Image credit: Edinburgh Napier University

The future demand for digital skills is well known to readers of Connect and the Tech 100. We all share a stake in access to talented developers, analysts and cyber security experts.

The recent launch of the Digital Skills Partnership, hosted by ScotlandIS, is one sign that Scotland is not just taking notice but leading the way.

Another is the £36m digital skills fund announced earlier this month.

One of our newest skills development propositions, facilitated by the apprenticeship levy, is graduate level apprenticeships where apprentices study up to degree level.

Of course the idea of studying while working is far from new – e-Placement Scotland has been working with the tech sector since 2010 to create paid work experience opportunities for computing students.

With over 1800 placements created, we can say the model works for students and businesses in Scotland.

Recognising the need for tech skills in Scotland, Edinburgh Napier’s graduate-level apprenticeships in information technology management for business and software development were among the first to be funded by Skills Development Scotland.

Courses will start this September with the aim to build up capability in businesses through a shared four-year investment between individuals, universities and business.

Apprenticeships will appeal to high calibre school leavers, existing employees and, fingers crossed, women.

Our experience is that they are more likely to remain loyal to their companies and represent a prudent investment.

The skills gap in the ever-evolving IT and digital industries in Scotland is widening with 72 per cent of employers having reported a lack of technical, practical or job specific skills in applicants.

Programmes such as the graduate level apprenticeships can help meet this demand head on.

The turbulence caused by Brexit and the prospect of #indyref2 is also reason to start investing in our workforce and for future business growth.

Scotland is a beacon leading the way when it comes to the digital sector. Graduate level apprenticeships are a perfect fit for Scotland’s tech growth roadmap.

Sally Smith is dean of computing at Edinburgh Napier University

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