On Thursday 17th June 2021 Gillian Keegan MP, the Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills, formally opened the WMG Degree Apprenticeship Centre, at the University of Warwick.
The WMG Degree Apprenticeship Centre was awarded £10 million funding from the Government’s Local Growth Fund through the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP).
The new Centre provides apprentices with the opportunity to study on degree programmes to develop the skills needed by advanced engineering and manufacturing companies.
The Centre offers degree apprenticeship training programmes for up to 1,000 students at a time.
WMG and the rest of the University of Warwick already provides 20 Degree Apprenticeship programmes across five academic departments for 791 students, one of the largest groups of degree apprenticeship courses at a Russell Group university.
Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills Gillian Keegan said: “It was such a privilege to open the WMG Degree Apprenticeship Centre at Warwick University. Apprenticeships are a brilliant way for people of any age to launch new careers or progress in their industry, with opportunities at a range of levels across a variety of exciting sectors.”
“As a former apprentice myself I know first-hand the lifelong passion for learning an apprenticeship can instil. It was wonderful to speak to Beverley and Rishi and hear their passion for where their apprenticeship journey will take them. I look forward to seeing how the centre will support the leaders of tomorrow to get the skills they need to succeed.”
The degree apprenticeship students will complete their studies at the University campus in conjunction with their employment at companies throughout Coventry and Warwickshire and the West Midlands.
Rishi Chohan, Degree Apprentice from the Manufacturing Technology Centre, said “It was a great pleasure to show Gillian Keegan MP around WMG’s fantastic Degree Apprenticeship Centre. As a final year degree apprentice, on the Applied Engineering Programme, the skills I have learnt at WMG, University of Warwick, have helped consolidate and facilitate my development as an engineer progressing into leadership at the Manufacturing Technology Centre.
Beverley Ngo, Degree Apprentice from Jaguar Land Rover, adds: “It was a pleasure to attend the official opening of the WMG Degree Apprenticeship Centre. I am a second year degree apprentice at Jaguar Land Rover and part of the first cohort of Digital Apprentices on the “Digital Technology Solutions” course. It was an honour to meet and show Gillian Keegan MP around the fantastic building that I will be learning and developing knowledge in such an important area of technology.”
The innovative new Degree Apprenticeship Centre has a unique learning environment with open spaces for collaborative and individual work, technology-enabled seminar rooms and a purpose-built, multifunctional, laboratory for activity based teaching and learning using state of the art equipment. The WMG Degree Apprenticeship Centre is the first stage of a future Degree Apprenticeship complex at the campus to train students in a range of Degree Apprenticeships.
At the official opening WMG Executive Chair Margot James said: “We are delighted to welcome Gillian here today to officially open the WMG Degree Apprenticeship Centre, and recognise the importance of our vital work with industry. Our Apprenticeship Centre provides the opportunity for apprentices to study whilst working in their companies, upskilling our workforce and bringing tangible benefits to advanced engineering and the manufacturing sector, to ensure the UK remains competitive”
The University of Warwick’s Vice Chancellor Professor Stuart Croft: “Warwick’s degree apprenticeships are founded on passion, knowledge, and a commitment to innovation. We demonstrate this in the way we work with industry and other partners and our degree apprenticeship students.”
“We encourage gifted apprentices from all backgrounds to share our passion who want to have the opportunity to earn as they learn and pursue exciting careers in their chosen field from day one of their time on these programmes.”
“Employers also value the passion and innovation of these students who will help close the skills gaps and inspire positive change both inside and outside the workplace.”
“As a university we are deeply committed to continue to expand our routes to degree qualifications.”
Marion Plant, Board Director and Chair of the CWLEP’s Productivity and Skills Business Group, said: “This is a significant project funded by the CWLEP and fits in perfectly with our Strategic Reset Framework to provide high quality jobs and levelling up opportunities by supporting the development of higher-level skills.
“It is vital for the long-term ambitions of Coventry and Warwickshire’s economy that we retain talented people in the area by ensuring employers have the skills their future workforces will need to drive forward the innovations for which we are renowned in automotive and advanced manufacturing, to be globally competitive in an increasingly digitised world.”
Work-based learning has always been a key part of WMG’s philosophy they are passionate about offering apprentices an integrated experience and supporting companies with their workforce strategies – be it recruiting the next generation of talent or upskilling or reskilling existing employees to support career paths and changes in business need.
Businesses today are rapidly changing and the skills they require to develop and grow are changing equally as quickly. People are already doing jobs that did not exist 10 years ago and the events of 2020 have precipitated even greater change. Working collaboratively at a broader level with industry, other training providers and specialist bodies, WMG is continuing their pioneering approach to develop programmes and identify priority areas that will help fill the existing and emerging skills gaps as they arise.