Business leaders and academics from across Scotland will come together at Heriot-Watt University later this month to learn about a pioneering education programme that allows individuals to study while in paid employment.
On Wednesday 28 March, the University will host its first Business Breakfast to highlight the benefits of Graduate Apprenticeships (GA) - a ground-breaking initiative, creating degree-qualified employees with the skills businesses need.
The programme offers apprentices the chance to learn whilst spending most of their time in paid employment. They then leave the programme with a qualification from Heriot-Watt and new skills to become more effective and productive in the workplace.
The main reason we decided to join the Graduate Apprenticeship scheme is the need to upskill our staff for future growth.
Dr Robin Westacott, Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at Heriot-Watt University and leader for the GA programme, said: "Graduate Apprenticeships are done over the same timescale as a traditional degree but the majority of the activity and assessment are based on tasks carried out in the workplace as part of a job.
“They offer a unique and flexible learning route to the mutual benefit of employers and apprentices.”
A raft of companies across Scotland are already making the most of the GA programme including Alistair Cameron, Managing Director of Scotmas Group, who said: “The main reason we decided to join the Graduate Apprenticeship scheme is the need to upskill our staff for future growth. To succeed in business, it's important to set long-term goals. Graduate Apprenticeships challenge our staff to do more. Our apprentices gain a rigorous approach to problem-solving, which is important for Scotmas Group.”
This view was echoed by Alan James, Managing Director of AJ Engineering who has embraced this new work-based learning route. He explained: "Graduate Apprenticeships are the next step for work-based learning and, of course, with our history of taking on apprentices, since the company was created, we jumped at the chance to be involved."
By 2020, thousands of Graduate Apprenticeship opportunities will be available every year, changing the way employers and individuals access degree-level education.
The Business Breakfast will be held at the Marriot Courtyard Hotel within the University's Edinburgh Campus from 8:30am on Wednesday 28 March.
Skills Development Scotland, with support from the European Social Fund, has developed Graduate Apprenticeships, in partnership with industry and the further and higher education sectors, to provide work-based learning opportunities up to Master`s degree level.