Green light for employer-led materials science apprenticeship degree
11 May 2018
The Institute for Apprenticeships has approved the development of the occupational standard for the new degree apprenticeship programme for materials scientists and engineers.
Evidence from companies responsible for employing 40,000 staff in the UK and 150,000 globally played a key part in persuading the institute to support the plan, said the organisation.
The degree apprenticeship application, co-ordinated by the Applied Materials Research, Innovation and Commercialisation Company (AMRICC) in Stoke-on-Trent, was led by an employer group formed last year.
Chris Stevens, of NGF Europe, who chairs the employer group, said companies’ involvement would help ensure that the degree was aligned to the needs of industry.
“There is great potential to take young people, and existing experienced employees, as apprentices and provide them with good scientific understanding of how things work, so that products and processes can be made to work quickly and effectively. It will be a real benefit to individual companies and the UK as a whole,” he explained.
“The gain in trouble-shooting and problem-solving skills will be of immediate payback. Product development timescales will be shortened as knowledgeable staff make good choices early on.”
In recent months, degree apprenticeships have come under fire from industry, with firms and organisations complaining that some insufficiently address the skills students need in order to boost their employability.
The gain in trouble-shooting and problem-solving skills will be of immediate payback. Product development timescales will be shortened as knowledgeable staff make good choices
Chris Stevens, chair, employer grp, materials degree apprenticeship application
In April, manufacturers’ lead association the EEF described the Government’s Apprenticeship Levy as “damaging” to industry while its recent survey stated that 40% of respondents said apprenticeship degrees failed to address the needs of their sectors.
Vice chair James Smith, current product manager for construction company Caterpillar, said there were challenges recruiting suitably qualified candidates that could be addressed with the new degree apprenticeship: “The new degree apprenticeship will cover education and training in a wide range of traditional and novel engineering materials and will address themes such as materials optimisation for product design, failure analysis, manufacturing processes, and end-of-life processing.
“This will set students up well to go straight into a career in analysis, manufacturing, product development, or the development of new materials themselves.”
Chair Stevens added that the materials programme, which is being supported by Staffordshire and Manchester Metropolitan universities, would seek further input from employers in order to develop occupational standards and assessment.
“We need to identify what the apprentices should be able to do, and the knowledge skills and behaviours to help them achieve each area of working,” he stated.
“After the course content and apprentice capability targets have been identified this will be followed by the need to define the checks and balances that will measure the apprentice’s competence at work and assess that the end-points have been reached.”
AMRICC is now inviting companies to register their interest in the degree apprenticeship here.