More than 60 of the UK’s first degree apprentices have enrolled at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) to pursue a new model of earning and learning that brings together the best of higher and vocational education.

The new Degree Apprenticeship in Digital & Technology Solutions has been designed and developed by the Tech Partnership and MMU together with leading employers such as Barclays, AstraZeneca, Lloyds Banking Group, Thales, Network Rail, DWP, Apadmi, Reality Mine, Shaping Cloud and Bright Future Software.

It is one of a number of new degree apprenticeship programmes to launch this autumn in the UK and is backed by the government, which funds two thirds of the course fees. The new programme will support the UK demand for the one million vacancies expected in the digital sector in the next decade.

The apprentices will study towards a BSc (Hons) in Digital & Technology Solutions at MMU’s £75m business school, while working for their employer. This will prepare them to work in a variety of IT related roles and covers a flexible curriculum, enabling specialisation in either software development or business.

Professor Jean-Noël Ezingeard, Deputy Vice Chancellor, MMU, said: “Curriculum innovation is at the heart of Manchester Metropolitan University and we are delighted to be one of the first selected universities able to offer the Digital & Technology Solutions Degree Apprenticeship. Our programme has been developed in partnership with employers and accredited by the Tech Partnership for its content and quality. This means that the employers can be confident that their degree apprentices will be developing the very best and most relevant skills and knowledge that industry needs for its future development.”

The degree apprenticeship integrates academic learning at degree level with work-based training. Students earn while they learn and come away with skills that are directly relevant to employers, who have an opportunity to instil their own business culture and working style from an early stage. The programme is open to existing employees, as well as new entrants.

Among the new apprentices is 20 year-old Nadia Johnson of Bolton, who has been appointed by Thales UK. She said: “I’ve always been a fan of learning something and then going and doing it. So studying in a university environment and then putting it to use it in the workplace helps to make it more concrete in my mind. Having a job alongside study was important to me. I’m fascinated by IT, and working in a field that relates to what I am learning at University is a great opportunity.”

John Peachey, Head of Software for Thales UK, said: “This will provide a unique opportunity for the new generation of software engineers to develop the academic and hands on technical and personal skills to be a key member of the Thales UK Software Development team.”

Helen Ford, Practice Manager (New Entrants Programmes) for Network Rail, said: “This is a fabulous opportunity for young people to earn whilst they learn and for us to be able to bridge the gap between earning and learning – providing a broad and deep experience across IT.”

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Charles Whitworth is the Editor of the Young Academic publications. Graduating from the University of Liverpool with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism in 2008, Charles learnt his trade in newsrooms such as IPC Media and Sky. He has now developed as a top sports, music and current affairs journalist and has been printed in a range of publications including The Guardian. His interests include Cricket, Football, Rugby, Music and Current Affairs. Fresh from the editorship of Student Times he now takes the reins at Young Academic - the premier student news portal. Connect with me on Google+

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