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Funding is on target to increase Degree Level Apprenticeships

The University of Wolverhampton has been successful in applying for funding to boost its Degree Level Apprenticeship programme as it develops its new Apprenticeship Hub in the Black Country.

The £250,000 funding, provided by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), has been awarded to support the development of new degree apprenticeships.

The Apprenticeship Hub is working with a range of partners, but the bid was successful in gaining support from Walsall College, City of Wolverhampton College and BMet, including In-Comm Training. This was a first call for bids from a £3 million Degree Apprenticeships Development Fund with a further bidding round coming soon.

There are currently 1,000 apprenticeships available in England covering a variety of occupations and the government has pledged to increase the number of apprenticeship starts to 3 million by 2020. First launched in September 2015, degree apprenticeships are available to enable the study of a full Bachelor or Master’s degree while working.

The University will be developing a range of new apprenticeship degrees in a range of subjects to support local and regional skills needs including Law, Aerospace, Engineering, Digital Technology, Leadership and Management, Broadcast Production and Nursing. Some of this work, including progression pathways, will be delivered in partnership with local further education colleges.

Jackie Dunne, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Access and Lifelong Learning at the University of Wolverhampton, said: “We are delighted to have secured additional funding to accelerate the growth of degree apprenticeships.

“The University plays a primary role in driving forward economic growth in the region and, by national measures, last year 96% of our students were in employment after finishing their studies with us. We are committed to raising aspirations and higher level skills to ensure that the current and future workforce meets the needs of employers.

“We have successfully delivered a small pilot for a Higher Apprenticeship in Construction Management in support of the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership’s strategic aims. We have also invested in a new Apprenticeship Hub designed to provide a focal point for the University and our employer and college partners to work together in providing a new apprenticeship offer across the areas in which we operate.”

Assistant Principal for Commercial Development at Walsall College, James Norris, commented: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with the University of Wolverhampton and give our support to this project. As one of the biggest providers of apprenticeships for 16-18 year olds in the West Midlands, Walsall College firmly believes that apprenticeships are a key element in ensuring sustainable growth in our regional economy.”

Gareth Jones, Managing Director at In-Comm Training, said: “It is vital that collaborations like the one behind the Apprenticeship Hub happen more often so that we can orchestrate an integrated offer that meets what industry is looking for. That’s the only way we will start to wipe out the skills shortage in the region.

“Too many times in recent history, training providers have dictated the offering and it hasn’t always been a true reflection of what firms need. By working in partnership, we can map out the full vocational educational pathway so that it can be offered in a robust and suitable manner.

“It is also important that we give engineering apprentices the opportunity to develop their skills, right through from NVQ Level 2 to securing a degree BEng (Hons) in their chosen field.”

Principal at City of Wolverhampton College, Claire Boliver, said: “We already work very closely with the University of Wolverhampton through the delivery of degree programmes, and are delighted to be extending our partnership with them by supporting the new Apprenticeship Hub.

“Higher Level skills are vital to business performance and economic growth, and degree level apprenticeships will not only enable employers to harness new and existing talent, but provide young people with a fantastic new route into their chosen profession.”

Andrew Cleaves, BMet Principal, said: “We welcome the opportunity to collaborate with the University on these new pathways. They are an excellent way for our learners and the schools we work with to become better aware of Apprenticeship progression routes and the many jobs that people can train for. The combined expertise of the colleges and the University will ensure these degree apprenticeships will also benefit local employers, making it easier for them to upskill their workforces.”

For more information please contact James Allen in the Media Relations Office at the University of Wolverhampton on 01902 322003.

Picture caption (L-R): University of Wolverhampton Vice-Chancellor Geoff Layer, Tom Westley of the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership and Michele Roberts of the Apprenticeship Hub at the launch of the Apprenticeship Hub in September 2016.

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