Friday, July 17, 2015

News: AMRC announces pioneering degree level apprenticeships

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As Tata Steel bosses pointed the finger at the Government for not doing enough to support foundation industries, Universities Minister Jo Johnson MP was across the borough seeing first-hand how universities and businesses can successfully work together to power innovation and growth.

In his first major speech since being appointed Minister for Universities, Science and Innovation, the Minister was at the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing in Rotherham where he spoke of the Government's commitment to One Nation Science – upholding the best in British science and research and developing that excellence for the whole country to ensure everyone can reach their potential.

Based on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) and a partner in the HVM Catapult (the government's strategic initiative that aims to revitalise the manufacturing industry), the AMRC focuses on advanced machining and materials research for aerospace and other high-value manufacturing sectors. It is a partnership between industry and academia, which has become a model for research centres worldwide.

To coincide with the ministerial visit, the AMRC announced a pioneering new education route for successful apprentices to study advanced vocational University degrees, as part of their apprenticeship training. A £1.6m Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) Catalyst funding award means that the AMRC Training Centre and university will be able to offer degree level apprenticeships.

The University will become one of the first in higher education to offer quality advanced manufacturing Foundation, Undergraduate and Masters degrees using the apprenticeship model jointly funded with businesses. Successful apprentices will have the opportunity to continue their studies up to Masters level.

Jo Johnson, Minister for Universities and Science, said: "The strength and resilience of our economy is dependent on the skills of our workforce, and it’s only right that as a One Nation government we ensure everyone can gain new qualifications and a rewarding career.

"The new degree-level apprenticeship programme being developed by the University of Sheffield with employers will provide a way for students to take their capabilities to advanced levels, and not only means brighter prospects for them, but provides a stronger talent pool for businesses.”

The traditional route to becoming an Incorporated or Chartered Engineer is through GCSEs, A-levels, a traditional academic BEng or MEng degree at university and then employment. The new, high quality, technical, vocational route into university, which is a development of the University's successful AMRC advanced apprentices scheme, will feature an innovative curriculum in advanced manufacturing to recognise the skills, experiences and particular learning styles of the apprentices, while meeting the needs of employers.

Professor Keith Ridgway, executive dean of the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with Boeing, said: "The new pathway will be delivered with a curriculum which will provide academic rigour alongside practical skills and high quality employer-led training that is designed to meet business needs and create the professional, creative engineers of tomorrow.

"The innovative new model of work-based learning is expected to attract different groups of students than traditional academic models, increasing diversity within cohorts and ultimately within the profession itself."

AMRC website

Images: University of Sheffield

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