Employers in Tayside and Fife’s science and technology sector are being encouraged to help shape the skills of their employees and to address skills shortages affecting their industry by supporting a brand new way of doing a degree program.
Dundee University has received funding from Skills Development Scotland to launch a four-year Graduate Level Apprenticeships (GLA) program from September.
And while a number of employers, including Dundee City Council, have already signed up, the university is hoping that more local businesses will get involved.
Dr Karen Petrie, Reader and Associate Dean for Learning & Teaching (School of Science & Engineering) at Dundee University, said: “It’s a brand new way of doing a degree programme basically.
“It’s for people who are in the workplace and who have never got a degree, or have got a degree in a subject that is not relevant to their current workplace. It’s a way to up-skill them so they can then move within the workplace up to a higher level or even start thinking about different jobs.”
Dr Petrie explained that GLA is an honours degree which uses work-based learning.
Employees can broaden their knowledge, learn new skills and secure industry accreditation, which will progress them as professionals and contribute to the business they are employed by.
“The way the degree programming actually works is that they come in on day release one day a week,” explained Dr Petrie.
“Then it’s work-based learning across 44 weeks of the year, coming out with a BSc honours degree at the end of four years.
“It’s great for employers because it’s fully funded by Skills Development Scotland.
“All they have to do is release the employee one day per week. There’s no other cost to them at all.”
Dr Petrie said GLA exists in several other Scottish universities.
However, Dundee University is the only institution currently running the pilot in Tayside or Fife and is the only one in Scotland to be running all four programmes – IT management for business, IT software development, engineering design and manufacture and civil engineering.
Dr Petrie added: “I’m really passionate about this because whether we like it or not university is getting more expensive, and some people are just priced out of the market.
“If you have young kids, it’s really difficult to come to university or if you have gone and got yourself a job it’s difficult to take the hit that going to university will have on your income.
“So I think we’ve got to find ways to help people get these science degrees in particular that are not the traditional degree routes.
“I think it’s really important. And it helps employers a lot because they are getting their workforce up-skilled for free.
“If you think some of these courses that employers send their staff on are £10,000 for the week, and they are getting a full degree programme at no cost to them.”
To find out more about GLA at Dundee University go to www.dundee.ac.uk/industry/graduatelevelapprenticeships/