Associate feature: How graduate apprenticeships can fill the tech skills gap

Written by Dr Sally Smith on 26 February 2018 in Comment

Sally Smith is Dean of Computing at Edinburgh Napier University on preparing the workforce for the future

The future demand for digital skills is well known to readers of Connect and we all share a stake in access to talented developers and cyber security experts.

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

Recognising the need for tech skills in Scotland, 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.

I’m delighted to say that the feedback on the first group is overwhelmingly positive – from employers, apprentices and university tutors. Our apprenticeships are highly competitive and appealing both to high calibre school leavers and existing employees. Our apprentices are putting their skills to use immediately – which helps them and their employers.

Following on from the successful launch of the first cohort of Graduate Apprentices in the School of Computing, Edinburgh Napier University is delighted to be expanding our portfolio of Graduate Apprenticeships. This year there are a total of 90 places available across the School of Computing, School of Engineering and Built Environment, and the Business School, with the cohorts starting in September 2018.

The skills gap in the ever-evolving and expanding tech sector in Scotland is widening with 72 per cent of employers having reported a lack of technical, practical or job specific skills in applicants. 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 to teachers, parents and school-leavers – helping Scotland to meet this demand head on. Graduate 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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