Golden futures for digital degree apprentices

Degree Apprentices were the stars of the show at the National Apprenticeship Week Tech Industry Gold celebration this week, both the award winners themselves and also the panel of apprentices who shared their stories.

Inspiring the audience with their very different journeys, they gave a common resounding message of commitment to their employers, enthusiasm for their degrees, and the recommendation to anyone considering such an opportunity to “Go for it!”  This panel comprised Ashley West of IBM and the University of Exeter, Cinderella Ezeanochie of Fujitsu and Manchester Metropolitan University, Lexi Thomas of Vodafone and QA, and Paul Frimpong of Goldman Sachs and Queen Mary University of London.

Nearly 200 people gathered at the virtual event to hear from employers, educators, and apprentices involved with industry-accredited Tech Industry Gold programmes.  There were also insights from Gillian Keegan MP, Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills, and Jennifer Coupland, CEO of the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education.

Gillian spoke for everyone when she said how much she had enjoyed listening to the amazing achievements of the degree apprentices, congratulating each of the winners of the 2021 Tech Industry Gold Degree Apprenticeship Awards under the three categories of Innovation, Business Contribution and Special Achievement, as follows;

  • Chris Bubloz of Brighton & Hove City Council who addressed overly restrictive filtering to remove barriers to online learning to benefit parents, pupils and teachers
  • Celine Williams of IBM who innovated a use case to block malicious traffic, gaining future lab funding and a vendor award for innovation
  • Zoe Bull of the Institute of Railway Operators who demonstrated passion and personal bravery to set up a new IT department for the Institute, with an inspirational journey for a busy working mum who had never previously considered undertaking a degree.

Gillian also shared her appreciation of the contribution made by these industry accredited programmes to accelerating opportunities for young people. Earlier, Jennifer Coupland referred to the power of digital and the importance of degree apprenticeships to the nation’s recovery. She commented on the value of the integrated digital degree apprenticeship route and how pleased she was to see starts on this route increase by a third in the last year, despite the pandemic.

Employer representatives spoke of the outstanding contributions of their degree apprentices. Ruth Jennings of Sainsbury’s reflected on their loyalty and promotion record. Kimberley Brant of AstraZeneca talked about how the programme creates a highly valuable broad network of people invested in the apprentices’ futures. Andy Cripps of Quicksilva shared how they, as a small company, made the decision to offer a degree apprenticeship, where the Tech Industry Gold community helped them, and the success it was for their business. Jenny Taylor of IBM compared how far ahead degree apprentices are at the end of the programme to standard degree graduates and why the independent assessment of quality means IBM chooses Tech Industry Gold accredited programmes.

Higher Education Institutions were equally enthusiastic about the commitment of degree apprentices and the value of engaging in these programmes. Liz Gorb of Manchester Metropolitan University commented on the high proportion of females on their Tech Industry Gold programme. Stella McKnight of Winchester University commented on their popularity, pointing to growth from 40 degree apprentices to the current 300. Peter Bull of QA talked about the importance of flexibility in delivery, particularly adapting programmes through the pandemic, whilst Eran Padumadasa of Queen Mary University of London reflected on the way employer relationships have developed for them over the last 5 years, and how focused they are on making sure programmes work for all parties.

Facilitators Phil Smith CBE, Nick White of Fujitsu, Brendan O’Rourke of Bain & Company and Rafik Ishani of Deloitte echoed everyone’s feelings in congratulating the degree apprentices and thanking all the employers and Higher Education Institutions who have created their opportunities.


2021 Tech Industry Gold Degree Apprenticeship Award Winners

Winner Chris Bubloz Brighton & Hove City Council / BPP University
Runner-up Matthew Harvey Bentley Motors / Manchester Metropolitan University
Runner-up Divya Hansora Chubb / University of West London
Winner Celine Williams IBM / University of Exeter
Runner-up Sonia Rides  North East Lincolnshire Council / Leeds Beckett University
Runner-up Katherine Locke IBM / University of Exeter
Winner Zoe Bull Institution of Railway Operators / Manchester Metropolitan University
Runner-up Dilani Selvanathan BBC / Queen Mary University of London
Runner-up Zain Nazar BT / Ravensbourne University London