Bridging the Digital Skills Gap: Are computing degree apprenticeships the answer?

Ella Taylor-Smith, Sally Smith, Khristin Fabian, Tessa Berg, Debbie Meharg, Alison Varey

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Citation (Scopus)
102 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

This paper describes a study investigating whether apprenticeship computing degrees in Scotland are attracting additional entrants who will become IT professionals and fill a skills need. Government policy reports, from around the world, set out plans to address computing skills shortages by introducing additional education or training programmes [23]. In the UK, this is put forward as a key goal of the new higher level apprenticeships, including Graduate Apprenticeships in Scotland and Degree Apprenticeships in the rest of the UK. These are promoted as bridging the skills gap by involving employers in curriculum design and widening access to people who would not want to study towards a traditional degree, because of the financial burden or time out of employment. New graduate apprentices at three Scottish universities were encouraged to complete a short survey, asking about their route into the degree, including their aspirations, motivations, and previous experience. Most respondents had begun an IT career before they started the apprenticeship and were upskilling and gaining an internationally recognised qualification. A third could be considered new to IT, including those coming straight from school and those moving into IT mid-career. The apprentices’ primary motivation was to gain skills. They chose the apprenticeship, rather than a traditional degree, because of the integration of work experience, followed by financial reasons: graduate apprentices earn salaries and can avoid student debt. These apprenticeships create a new route to a computing degree-level qualification. We consider their potential in addressing digital skills shortages.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInnovation and Technology in Computer Science Education
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Pages126-132
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-4503-6895-7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2019

Fingerprint

apprenticeship
apprentice
graduate
qualification
shortage
IT career
salary
government policy
indebtedness
training program
employer
experience
career
curriculum
university
school
education

Keywords

  • Graduate apprenticeship
  • work-based learning
  • degree apprenticeship
  • digital skills
  • computer science

Cite this

Taylor-Smith, E., Smith, S., Fabian, K., Berg, T., Meharg, D., & Varey, A. (2019). Bridging the Digital Skills Gap: Are computing degree apprenticeships the answer? In Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education (pp. 126-132). New York: Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). https://doi.org/10.1145/3304221.3319744
Taylor-Smith, Ella ; Smith, Sally ; Fabian, Khristin ; Berg, Tessa ; Meharg, Debbie ; Varey, Alison. / Bridging the Digital Skills Gap: Are computing degree apprenticeships the answer?. Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education. New York : Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), 2019. pp. 126-132
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Taylor-Smith, E, Smith, S, Fabian, K, Berg, T, Meharg, D & Varey, A 2019, Bridging the Digital Skills Gap: Are computing degree apprenticeships the answer? in Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education. Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), New York, pp. 126-132. https://doi.org/10.1145/3304221.3319744

Bridging the Digital Skills Gap: Are computing degree apprenticeships the answer? / Taylor-Smith, Ella; Smith, Sally; Fabian, Khristin; Berg, Tessa; Meharg, Debbie; Varey, Alison.

Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education. New York : Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), 2019. p. 126-132.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

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AB - This paper describes a study investigating whether apprenticeship computing degrees in Scotland are attracting additional entrants who will become IT professionals and fill a skills need. Government policy reports, from around the world, set out plans to address computing skills shortages by introducing additional education or training programmes [23]. In the UK, this is put forward as a key goal of the new higher level apprenticeships, including Graduate Apprenticeships in Scotland and Degree Apprenticeships in the rest of the UK. These are promoted as bridging the skills gap by involving employers in curriculum design and widening access to people who would not want to study towards a traditional degree, because of the financial burden or time out of employment. New graduate apprentices at three Scottish universities were encouraged to complete a short survey, asking about their route into the degree, including their aspirations, motivations, and previous experience. Most respondents had begun an IT career before they started the apprenticeship and were upskilling and gaining an internationally recognised qualification. A third could be considered new to IT, including those coming straight from school and those moving into IT mid-career. The apprentices’ primary motivation was to gain skills. They chose the apprenticeship, rather than a traditional degree, because of the integration of work experience, followed by financial reasons: graduate apprentices earn salaries and can avoid student debt. These apprenticeships create a new route to a computing degree-level qualification. We consider their potential in addressing digital skills shortages.

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Taylor-Smith E, Smith S, Fabian K, Berg T, Meharg D, Varey A. Bridging the Digital Skills Gap: Are computing degree apprenticeships the answer? In Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education. New York: Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). 2019. p. 126-132 https://doi.org/10.1145/3304221.3319744