HEFCE Award Enables BCU to Launch New Higher Level Apprenticeships

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Birmingham City University will launch a £178,000 initiative to fund new Degree Apprenticeship courses to help stem skills gaps across the West Midlands.

The award is part of £484,000 awarded to the West Midlands Combined Universities from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).


BCU will use its share of an almost half-million pound package to consolidate its drive towards placing its high-calibre graduates in employment. As such, the new funding will help run a range of new Higher Level Apprenticeships, offering students paid employment alongside their degree at the end of their studies.

Courses will include apprenticeships in, amongst other areas:

  • Nursing;
  • Healthcare;
  • Engineering;
  • Construction;
  • Cyber Security.

The courses, though new, expand on existing areas of study and will target the needs that the region faces today more keenly. Each course addresses one of many major skills gaps that blight growth and innovation in the West Midlands.

Professor Julian Beer, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Birmingham City University, said:

“To put this bid together, we spent a long time talking to businesses and researching to see exactly where the skills gaps are in our region.

“Each course we plan to create has a very clear direct link to the needs of the West Midlands economy, and we are extremely pleased that this funding will allow us to help produce the next generation of workers.

“Giving the students the chance to study and train at the same time and still gain a fully recognised degree is becoming an increasingly important opportunity for universities, and we are glad to be one of very few institutions to have secured HEFCE funding for the second time in two years.”

Birmingham City University, Coventry University and the University of Wolverhampton constitute the combined universities who received the nigh on half a million pound award.

The consortium will use their respective awards to create the Health and Care Degree Apprenticeship Accelerator Programme.

Professor Julian Beer added:

“Alongside the funding secured with West Midlands Combined Universities, there is almost £800,000 which is being put directly into training the next generation of workers in some industries which are vital to us, and that can only be good for our economy.”

Wayne Langford, Director of The University of Wolverhampton, has ideas along the same line. He also recognises the threat that a lack of skills poses to the West Midlands:

“The West Midlands region has a thriving economy but it is no secret that we have a skills shortage in some key areas.

“We believe this funding provides a timely opportunity to develop a suite of Care Navigator roles that will help stimulate a beneficial change in the way social care is delivered in the health and care system.

“Degree Apprenticeships provide us with an ideal method of making sure our workforce is equipped to meet the employment demands of the region, as well as giving students both on-the-job training and a degree level education.

The West Midlands Combined Universities working together in a joined up approach with other leading health and social care partners and employers, which takes in the needs of the entire region, give us a much better chance of addressing this skills gap whilst at the same time making a valuable contribution to the propagation of new trailblazer groups to further develop innovative standards.”

Further Reading: UCAS: degree apprenticeships

Image: WMCU | About

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