Cambridge University is to offer apprenticeships for the first time in a sign that vocational training is becoming a genuine alternative to conventional degrees and £27,000 tuition fees.
The university has been registered as an official apprenticeship trainer alongside companies such as Lloyds Bank, Greggs bakery, and British Airways. Other universities including Bath Spa and the University of Brighton, which are already renowned for their vocational courses, have also been registered.
A spokesman for Cambridge said that the type of courses and employers involved were in “active development”. “The university will be focusing its initial apprenticeship offer at the postgraduate level in a selected range of professional fields,” the spokesman said. “Working with employers and apprentices, Cambridge is intending to deliver research-informed, apprenticeship training through its Institute of Continuing Education and academic departments.”
Given the skills shortage in digital technology and Cambridge’s proximity to the cluster of businesses known as Silicon Fen, it is likely that computing will feature high on the list.
Elite apprenticeships, which combine working with the study, are fast becoming an alternative to conventional university. The civil service is the biggest provider of higher and degree apprenticeships, followed by BAE Systems, the aerospace company, and PWC, the accountancy firm. Some employers predict that they will eventually overtake graduate recruitment programmes.
Leading employers have complained that graduates have very little experience of work and need extensive training before they can become useful employees. By recruiting school leavers on to higher or degree apprenticeship programmes they can provide training and work experience at the same time. In turn, young people can obtain a degree or other recognized qualifications while being paid and without racking up student debts, on average, £50,000.
About 1,000 students will start higher and degree apprenticeship courses this September at the National College for Nuclear, which is officially established today. The growing nuclear sector will need 6,000 trained staff each year for new technical and professional jobs to cope with the development of twelve new reactors across five sites. The National College will have hubs in Cumbria, near Sellafield, and Somerset, near Hinckley Point, where the first new nuclear power station for a generation is due to open in the mid-2020s.
A nuclear waste dump for all Britain’s waste has been proposed, with Cumbria the most likely site. There are also plans for another new nuclear power station near Sellafield. One of the courses on offer at the college is a degree in decommission and waste management.
The universities of Cumbria and Bristol are also involved in the college’s teaching. Anne Milton, the apprenticeships and skills minister, said: “This college will provide our nuclear industry with the highly skilled engineers, scientists and technicians it needs to grow, as well as giving more people opportunities in the competitive job market.”
First seen here.