PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has created a technology degree apprenticeship scheme that aims at bringing a broader range of people into computing careers.
The programme, aimed at addressing the UK’s growing digital skills shortage, consists of a four-year course to be offered at the University of Birmingham and the University of Leeds, beginning in September 2018.
It will see 80 students combining university studies with hands-on experience working with PwC and its clients on IT projects in the city in which they’re studying.
Apprentices will be considered PwC employees from the beginning, and will receive a salary in addition to having their university fees paid, as long as they continue to meet performance criteria.
At the end of the four years they will come away with a BSc degree in computer science and will have the opportunity to begin their careers with a job at PwC, helping clients understand how different technologies can help them.
Areas covered are to include intelligent systems, cyber security, theoretical computer science and human-centred computing.
Candidates will need to have at least three A-levels, including an ‘A’ in mathematics and at least a ‘C’ in GCSE English, but won’t need programming experience.
The ‘big four’ accountancy firm said the programme will be one of the first and largest examples of the Level 6 apprenticeship scheme, which provides the equivalent of an undergraduate university degree.
The current apprenticeship system, introduced in 2013 and supported by an Apprenticeship Levy that began in April, is in part intended to help address the UK’s rapidly growing digital skills shortage.
PwC chairman and senior partner Kevin Ellis said the degree programme aims to open up computing careers to a wider range of students from around the country and would specifically target women.
Only 27 percent of female A-level and university students would consider a career in technology, compared to 62 percent for male students, according to PwC’s research.
“The demand for technology advice is rapidly increasing, while the pool of available tech talent is shrinking and could be impacted further by Brexit,” Ellis stated. “To meet these challenges we need to be even more innovative in the way we develop skills and recruit people.”
A Frost & Sullivan study published last week found Europe faced a shortage of 350,000 IT security staff by 2022.
The study recommended companies broaden the range of people from which they select job candidates, including considering more women and younger people, and that they invest in training.
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