Thirty eight students are amongst the first in the UK to be welcomed by PwC, one of the UK’s largest graduate employers, on to its new fully-funded computer science degree apprenticeship to help grow the next generation of UK technology talent.
Welcoming the students today (16 October 2018), at the University of Birmingham, PwC’s Chairman, Kevin Ellis, spoke to the group about their role in developing future skills and ideas for an increasingly digital world.
The innovative degree programme will see the students combining university life with practical work-based technology projects. The four-year course has been developed by PwC in partnership with the University of Birmingham, and successful candidates will work with PwC as they study on their degree programme.
The initiative is one of the first and largest examples of the new Level 6 Degree Apprenticeships in action. Students will be PwC employees from day-one and will be paid a salary throughout their course. At the end of the programme, those meeting performance criteria will earn a degree in Computer Science and will continue their career at PwC.
Tech degree student, Tom Hough, 18, from Telford, Shropshire, said:
“I was looking for an apprenticeship, but also considering university as a back-up in case I didn’t get one. When I found the tech degree apprenticeship with PwC it was the perfect combination of both.
“I’m the first person in my family to go to university and help with homework pretty much stopped in year eight at school. Because my parents didn’t go to university, I was able to get support through the Access 2 Birmingham programme. The financial support from PwC in paying for university fees and receiving a salary meant going to university was a real option and motivation to do well in my exams and get on to the course.”
PwC’s technology degree apprenticeship has been designed to help address the UK’s technology skills gap and improve the industry’s diversity. Getting more women interested in technology careers is a key focus, as is raising awareness of the programme among students in more disadvantaged areas.
Lauren Alie, 18, from Reading, also on the tech degree apprenticeship programme added:
“It’s great that opportunities like this exist to help more women into careers in tech and cyber. As the next generation coming into the workplace, we are starting to hear more and more about the importance of closing the BAME and gender gap. It’s great that employers like PwC are addressing these issues by looking at the future employees they are attracting through the tech degree apprenticeship and instilling confidence in young women coming into the company.”
Kevin Ellis, chairman of PwC, explained that the programme combines PwC’s commitment to drive greater diversity and social mobility across the professional services sector with its desire to help upskill people for the future. He said:
“The students here in Birmingham are a new wave of talent that will bring crucial skills, ideas and perspectives to UK business. We need to invest to create a vibrant tech sector right across the country and ensure those benefits are evenly spread. Our technology degree apprenticeships are one of the steps we're taking to meet this challenge. The fourth industrial revolution provides a huge opportunity to upskill and create a more diverse workforce, which will in turn have a positive impact on society."
Matthew Hammond, Midlands Region Chairman for PwC, added:
“Technology is fundamentally changing the way we live and work. Rather than fearing these technological changes, we believe it is a huge opportunity to create new jobs and rebalance our economy and society.
“People often perceive that all the tech talent needs to be in London, but with a growing specialist tech team here in the Midlands we are opening up the opportunities to people who may have thought that university or technology careers were out of their reach.”
Professor Jon Binner, College of Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of Birmingham, said:
“At the University of Birmingham, we are passionate about providing our students with the best opportunities and experiences possible to prepare them for the world of employment.
We are delighted to welcome our first cohort onto the four-year course with PwC. We look forward to seeing our students develop the skills set, expertise and experience that are highly in-demand from industry.
“The University of Birmingham is a civic university; we welcome all students from all backgrounds, and we continue to respond to the challenges of the day. Like PwC, we too believe in addressing the UK’s technology skills gap and improving the industry’s diversity, and are proud to be instrumental in educating the industry’s future talent.”
To find out more about the apprenticeship degree or to register your interest visit http://www.pwc.co.uk/careers/school-jobs/jobs/flying-start-degrees/technology.html