New Higher Apprenticeship set to reduce R&D skills shortage
11 Jul 2012
Pera Training, a UK provider of manufacturing apprenticeships, has showcased its new higher apprenticeship qualification to help address the skills shortage in the Research &Development sector.
This is the first higher level R&D apprenticeship pathway in the UK, says the company, and will provide employees, and in particular young people, with access to a nationally recognised qualification. This is the equivalent of a degree across the science, engineering and technology sectors.
Speaking at the launch at Milton Park – a centre for business and science in Oxfordshire – John Chudley, regional director, south, at the National Apprenticeship Service said: "I am delighted to be here today and show my support for the new higher level R&D apprenticeship developed by Pera Training and EAL.
"Higher Apprenticeships are a missing link in our skills system, yet vital to our economy and future growth. This apprenticeship marks an important milestone as it strives to close the skills gap and provide the advanced, broad-based R&D skill sets that employers are demanding. Not only will it provide a platform for future students to pursue a nationally recognised qualification, but add value and competiveness to businesses both large and small. Higher Apprenticeships have the potential to deliver high level skills tailored specifically to individual business requirements."
To deliver the new qualification, Pera Training teamed up with Science Vale UK, Oxford Instruments, Emta Awards Ltd, EAL, the Oxfordshire LEP and the County Council.
Science Vale UK is host to an almost unparalleled concentration of science and technology activity, and will be an important hub from where the new qualification will grow. It is hoped that along with the new higher apprenticeship and other schemes more than 8,000 jobs will be created in the area alone.
Citing his own personal experience, Ross McKean, a Level 3 apprentice at Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, said: "It has been extremely interesting learning about the development of the new higher apprenticeship in R&D today. For many, university is not an option, and it's great to hear and see how this new Higher Apprenticeship will be just as valuable as a degree. In my opinion and experience, nothing makes you better prepared for highly skilled jobs than an apprenticeship scheme. You learn through hands on experience on the job, work as a team each day and earn a wage.
"Higher Apprenticeships are a real alternative to University for the more practically minded and I hope to see them as a true progression from school, college or an Advanced Apprenticeship."
Steve Gledhill, project manager at Pera Training, set out how the scheme will put practical learning on a level footing with academic study: "Young people need to know that higher apprenticeships are a great route to a successful career, as they can build higher level skills while learning on-the-job with an employer. While employers need to recognise that Higher Apprenticeships offer a valuable alternative to the recruitment and development of highly-skilled employees, as well as a viable solution to employers' increasing desire for practical and academic skills.
"By increasing the number of higher level apprenticeships, Pera Training will start to put practical learning on a level footing with academic study. This is an essential step that will help rebalance our economy and build a society in which opportunity and reward are fairly and productive distributed.
"We truly believe the introduction of the R&D pathway within Pera's framework will lead to significant uptake of higher level apprenticeships. Our vision is to create a Higher Apprenticeship pathway in R&D developed by leaders of technology and innovation that will provide a platform for future students to pursue a personal and economically rewarding career spanning many Advanced Engineering and Science sectors."
The qualification is within the R&D pathway in the SEMTA Advanced Manufacturing Higher Apprenticeship Framework, and will allow employers to focus resources on the skills that will help lead to growth and economic recovery.
While R&D investment in the UK remains high, there are no vocational qualifications that specifically support R&D and only a handful of qualifications that contain a small element of skills. Higher Apprenticeships will increasingly deliver not just high quality basic training, but also the advanced, high tech skills that firms needs to get ahead of the competition.
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