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Stirling University launches new BSc Graduate Apprenticeship course

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As COVID devastates businesses globally, Stirling University spearheads a new course to aid recovery and get students into the workplace

The University of Stirling has welcomed its first cohort of students to its flagship apprenticeship programme.

An intake of 19 students have began to study towards a BSc Graduate Apprenticeship in Data Science, with the aim of allowing students to benefit from a combination of both work based learning and teaching time.

The course will typically see students spending 80% of their time in the workplace, with 20% spent learning in an academic setting, offering something for students and employers alike during this difficult period of economic recovery.

Introduced at a critical time for Scotland’s economy, the inception of the course reflects on Stirling University’s ongoing commitment to supporting business and supporting students to enter the workplace, forging a symbiotic and mutually beneficial relationship.

Program Director Dr Mario Kolberg said: “We are delighted at the response to the launch of our BSc Graduate Apprenticeship in Data Science, and we welcome those students who have joined us.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant disruption and posed an enormous number of challenges to businesses across the world, including here in Scotland. University of Stirling graduates will play a key role in supporting the recovery and this new programme provides a new route into education for many, while offering employers opportunities to upskill existing or attract new talent.

“The launch of our new Graduate Apprenticeship Data Science programme is timely and will upskill and develop apprentices in the workplace, ready to make a positive impact in their company and the Scottish economy.”

University supports businesses with launch of graduate apprenticeships |  About | University of Stirling
Dr Mario Kolberg, Programme Director and lecturer on Data Science at Stirling University.

The course was first introduced by Skills Development Scotland in 2017, at the behest of the Scottish Government’s initiative to enhance workforce skills through graduate-level qualifications, and to provide a new route into education for many people. All tuition fees for the course are paid for by the Apprenticeship Levy.

The course was designed in collaboration with industry to meet recognised skill gaps, and to ensure the course was compatible with the workplace, so learning segments are directly linked and applicable to the career. The focus is inherently on equipping students with real-world skills, and offering the opportunity for business to upskill workers.

Funding has been given to companies with a facility in Scotland, where apprentices will work, giving opportunities to Scottish students or those studying in Scotland specifically, contrary to many industry events or opportunities that tend to be located in England.

While some universities felt forced to abandon the planned graduate programme due to the pandemic, Stirling University launched as planned in September.

Organisations involved in the first intake of students include the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, the Student Loans Company, Aqualife, Abellio, and a number of local authorities. The University is developing the skills of two staff members through this course, in further commitment to the programme.

Kristian Clezy, Head of Engineering at Aqualife, said: “Aqualife got involved in the graduate apprenticeship scheme to realise a cost efficient way to implement a data science function within the team.
“A combination of good communication with the University of Stirling and a very capable candidate has led to an extremely positive experience so far. I look forward to the next few years to come.”

Adrienne Gardner, Project and Process Manager at Abellio, said: “The value of apprenticeships to both employers and individuals is enormous. Investing in employees, whilst allowing them the time to invest in themselves is a win/win for any organisation.
“The structured learning and support offered through apprenticeships enables individuals to balance work and study whilst also being able to put new skills in to practice. For organisations serious about building capability in their workforce, I can’t recommend apprenticeships highly enough.”

Student Andy Muirhead, who works for the Student Loans Company while studying at Stirling, said: “The course is an incredible opportunity. For people like me, who feel more ready for education at an older age this program is ideal – a second chance at education at a time in my life where I feel more capable and this is the reason why I applied.

“My experience so far has been very positive. Getting back into education has helped me to again to find satisfaction in the pursuit of knowledge. I was initially nervous about everything being online but so far it has gone well and I’m looking forward to attending the campus in the coming years.”

Students looking to join the programme in future or for more information in general should look here.

For business interests in how the programme could benefit you organisation, email Fiona McMillan via stirgradapprenticeships@stir.ac.uk

Featured Image Credit: Brig/Harry Williamson

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