A group of students from Manchester Metropolitan University have become the first degree apprentices in the North West of England to graduate, in a programme designed to help employers meet the skills gap in IT professions.

The pioneering cohort joined Manchester Metropolitan in 2015 following the launch of the government’s innovative degree apprenticeship programmes, which combine university study and workplace learning to enable apprentices to achieve a full bachelors or masters degree.

Representing 14 employers from a range of business sectors – including Thales UK, Bentley Motors and Barclays – 48 graduates from Manchester Metropolitan were awarded their degrees at The Bridgewater Hall in Manchester yesterday (July 18).

Jessica Wong, 22, graduated with a first class degree in Digital and Technology Solutions and is set to continue her career as a Software Engineer at Thales UK.

Jessica said: “I’m ecstatic that I’ve graduated with a first class honours degree. The degree apprenticeship has given me so many fantastic opportunities including the privilege of being invited to the House of Commons earlier this year to meet various members of the Thales senior management team and MPs.

“I would recommend degree apprenticeships to anyone and I’ve really enjoyed studying at Manchester Metropolitan. I’m now focused on forming long-term career plans to shape my professional path and I want to develop my technical skills and work towards other certifications.”

Since the first cohort began studying at Manchester Metropolitan in 2015, over 1,100 more degree apprentices have joined the University from more than 220 employer partners.

For employers, the degree apprenticeship programmes have driven the development of specialist workplace skills and behaviours demanded by the UK’s business community.

John Peachey, Head of Software Engineering at Thales UK said: “The Degree Apprenticeship has involved academic study for a degree, whilst performing to the high standards required of a Thales engineer. This is an amazing achievement and is a great reward for all of the late nights and long days that were required to satisfy demanding assignment deadlines and exam revision.

“Look out for these rising stars – they will continue to inspire our next generation of engineers.”

With the launch of nine new programmes over the past four years, including the MBA Degree Apprenticeship and the Advanced Clinical Practitioner masters programme, Manchester Metropolitan is set to continue to bridge the skills gap across a range of industries.

Professor Malcolm Press, Vice-Chancellor of Manchester Metropolitan University, said: “It was an honour to present our first degree apprentices with their degrees and to be joined by our employer partners who have supported them throughout their studies.

“Manchester Metropolitan’s commitment to degree apprenticeships emphasises the leading role the University plays in ensuring our students are ready to take on the challenges of the modern workplace. In partnership with employers, we are looking forward to continuing the development of practice-focused programmes that are meeting the needs of industry, individuals and society.”


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