Computer science degree apprenticeship drives diversity

The University of Birmingham’s computer science degree apprenticeship with PwC is driving positive changes in the diversity of students studying the discipline.

One third of students who will be welcomed onto the course in September will be female. There will be students from diverse backgrounds, including those who will be the first in their family to attend university. Students who have applied to the fully funded, four year digital technology programme have achieved excellent results in today’s A Levels. It will be one of the first examples of the new Level 6 Degree Apprenticeships in action.

Professor Andy Schofield, Head of the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences said: “We are delighted to be able to welcome these excellent students onto the new degree apprenticeship. The results show we are starting to drive changes in diversity and social mobility for this type of subject, opening up access to more talented young people. There is still some way to go though, and this will continue to be a focus for the course.

“Here at the University of Birmingham, we are passionate about providing our students with the best opportunities and best experience possible to prepare them for the world of employment. With this degree apprenticeship, we are 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.”

The degree apprenticeship has been designed to develop the UK’s next generation of technology talent to meet the needs of industry. Students will combine university life with practical work-based technology projects at the PwC offices in Birmingham and will receive a salary from the company throughout the course.

At the end of the four years, the students will come away with a degree in Computer Science from the University of Birmingham and a job at PwC, if they meet performance criteria.

Matthew Hammond, PwC Midlands region chairman, said the computer sciences degree programme was yet another step in PwC’s aim to drive radical change across the professional services’ industry by encouraging diversity and social mobility and opening greater access to the industry for talented young people:

“To meet these challenges we need to be even more innovative in the way we develop skills and recruit people. Our new computer science degree apprenticeship is an exciting new way for us to start to grow the future of the UK’s technology industry at a much earlier stage and to open up these careers to students from a wider range of backgrounds.

"I am delighted with today’s results and that we will be welcoming students onto the programme who are from families and communities in the West Midlands who have little or no experience of higher education."

James Hampshire, PwC tech champion for the Midlands said:
“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.

“We see our computer science degree apprenticeship as a way to get more young people from across society to be part of this exciting change and to equip them with the skills to be the business leaders of the future.

“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.”

The University of Birmingham and PwC have worked closely together to develop a syllabus which equips students with the right skills for the future, in an area that is increasingly in demand. The programme also gives young people an alternative option to a traditional degree or apprenticeship, and provides them with the opportunity to experience university life but with practical work-based projects, tailored course content, great job prospects and a salary from day one.

Ends

For further information, please contact Dominic Benson, Deputy Director of Communications, on d.benson.1@bham.ac.uk or +44(0) 121 414 5134.

Notes to editors

The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions. Its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers, teachers and more than 6,500 international students from over 150 countries.

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