GCU launches major expansion of Graduate Apprenticeships

14 February 2019

Hundreds of working people will gain access to higher education after Glasgow Caledonian University secured £5.4million to become one of Scotland's largest providers of Graduate Apprenticeships.

The funding award, from Skills Development Scotland (SDS), will allow the University to offer 194 fully-funded places in civil engineering, construction, cyber security, software development, engineering and design, and business management, from September 2019.

There are already 240 graduate apprentices enrolled at GCU studying a range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

GAs allow people to combine work with higher education, from school leavers in their first job to experienced professionals looking to gain a formal education, further develop their career or retrain.

GCU held talks with more than 90 employers across Scotland to gauge demand for the expansion of the programme and works in partnership with companies such as IBM, Lloyds Banking Group, Jacobs, SEEMis, GRAHAM, and McLaughlin & Harvey.

Professor Pamela Gillies CBE, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of GCU, said: "We are truly proud of our pioneering approach to co-created, work-based education, nationally and internationally.

"This latest Graduate Apprenticeship funding award from Skills Development Scotland is a testament to the quality of GCU's offering to working professionals and their employers."

Fiona Stewart-Knight, Assistant Vice Principal Business Partnerships at GCU, said: "We are delighted to be able to offer more working people in Scotland the chance to achieve an industry aligned, higher education qualification.

"GCU is committed to an outstanding student apprentice and mentor experience through excellence in teaching and dynamic collaboration with employers."

Rob Woodward, chair of GCU Court, added: "GCU has an outstanding reputation in pioneering graduate apprenticeships and will now be able to play a sector leading role in the provision of work-based education for young people."

Graduate Apprenticeships have been developed by SDS in partnership with employers, universities and colleges and professional bodies to create stronger links between education and industry.

At the end of the programme, apprentices have the unique combination of relevant work experience plus a university qualification, which will enable them to progress in their chosen career.

Lewis Clark, a graduate apprentice Mechanical Engineer, who works for healthcare giant GSK, in Irvine, and studies at GCU, said: "Combining studying with full-time work has definitely given me an advantage as I use the theory I learn at university in a practical sense on site.

"It gives me a greater understanding of what I'm learning. Recently, I was working on a module for my course and was able to use what I learned to come up with a solution for a project involving pipework in the plant.

"I feel that the graduate apprenticeship will allow me to progress further in my career quicker."

The growth of Graduate Apprenticeships supports the Scottish Government's ambition to create 30,000 apprenticeship jobs a year by 2020.

Jonathan Clark, Director of Service Design and Innovation at SDS, said: "The success and growth of Graduate Apprenticeships demonstrate that they are supporting employers to upskill their workforce and giving individuals more opportunities to learn and develop their career whilst in employment.

"Universities and colleges across the country are widening their choice of Graduate Apprenticeships and Skills Development Scotland will continue to develop subjects that focus on a range of sectors where there is a need for highly skilled jobs."

Picture - Jonathan Clark, Director of Service Design and Innovation at SDS, with GCU Principal Professor Pamela Gillies CBE, Damien Yeates, Chief Executive of SDS, and Fiona Stewart-Knight, Assistant Vice Principal Business Partnerships at GCU.