National Apprenticeship Week shines a light on the alternative career pathway for young people says Siemens’ head of training solutions
Siemens’ degree apprenticeship programme is on target to deliver its 25th Industry 4.0-trained engineer.
The innovative skills solution added a ‘top up’ year to the four-year Higher Apprenticeship programme, giving participants a BEng (Bachelor of Engineering) in Control and Automation. This has now become a degree apprenticeship using the new apprentice standards
Co-designed and co-delivered by Siemens and the University of Salford it uses a block delivery model combining academic modules in automation, robotics, and embedded systems, Siemens S7 Certified PLC programmer training and accreditation, and a workplace project to solve a real-world problem.
Since its launch in 2017 an impressive 17 apprentices from across Siemens’ businesses have gained their degrees, with eight on target to graduate this year.
Kirsty Milne, 22, is part of the first cohort on the cusp of completing the four year degree apprenticeship programme.
While most of her friends went to university, Kirsty, then 18, moved 200 miles from her hometown of Barking to Manchester to begin her degree apprenticeship with Siemens Digital Industries.
She said: “My only apprehension about pursuing a different path was missing out on the university experience. The welcome I received from Siemens and meeting so many other apprentices put those fears to bed immediately.
“From day one I was working, learning, and getting real experiences of the potential career pathways I can take at Siemens.
“A lot of my friends graduated from university last year, which I was a bit jealous of, but come the autumn I will have my degree, four years work experience under my belt, and no debt. Taking this leap of faith has really paid off. This apprenticeship pathway has really accelerated my career.”
As well as creating a degree apprenticeship the ‘top-up’ solution has enabled Siemens to upskill a wide range of engineers at different points in their careers. Seven have achieved a degree to date and four are expected to graduate in 2021.
Jason Phin, Training Solutions Business Manager at Siemens, said: “Our ambition was to create a degree programme covering the range of practical skills and technical understanding that is needed in our workforce to fully capitalise on the opportunities of Industry 4.0, while attracting and retaining talent in our business.
“National Apprenticeship Week is the perfect time to celebrate the success of our degree apprenticeship programme and illustrate what can be achieved by collaboration between industry and academia.
“Siemens’ degree apprenticeship involves working and studying at the same time so you gain hands-on experience while training, along with a salary, and graduate without tuition fees.
“It’s proven itself as a fantastic alternative to young people wishing to explore a different path to university and achieve a degree.”
The academic upgrade is also available to Siemens’ customers and suppliers, both for apprentices, funded by the Apprenticeship Levy, or as a separate Continuing Professional Development (CPD) initiative for non-apprentices.
So far 16 experienced personnel have completed the programme, from businesses such as Amazon, GSK and Muller Dairies, with 11 apprentices and 16 non-apprentices expected to graduate this year.
It means the degree programme is forecast to have upskilled 79 young and experienced engineers.
Jason added: “It is a huge vote of confidence that both global companies and SMEs are buying into this programme with the knowledge that there will be immediate returns on their skills investment.”
Dr Steve Hill, Senior Lecturer School of Science, Engineering & Environment, University of Salford, said: “The University has a strong reputation of working closely with industry.
“I’m delighted that we are collaborating with Siemens to offer a programme which will equip participants with industry-specific understanding to enhance their skill-set and further their career in engineering.”
Siemens Professional Education (SPE UK), which coordinates Siemens’ apprenticeship provision, has been rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted, the education watchdog, since 2016.