Computing degree apprenticeships: An opportunity to address gender imbalance in the IT sector?

Tessa Berg, Sally Smith, Ella Taylor-Smith, Khristin Fabian, Mark Zarb, James Paterson, Matthew Barr, David Cutting, Tiffany Young

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

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This paper explores the potential for new work based apprenticeship degrees to encourage more women into computing degrees and the IT sector. In the UK, women are currently under-represented on computing courses. Meanwhile the IT industry requires more computing graduates, in general,and specifically more highly skilled women to create appropriate products and systems. The UK has recently introduced apprenticeship computing degrees, where the apprentice is a work-based employee. In some models,apprentices spend 20% of their time on Higher Education studies and also gain credits through work-based learning; in others, apprentices spend blocks of time in Higher Education and the workplace. These degrees offer a new and innovative route to studying computing at university. Largely funded by employers, apprentices are salaried, and their fees are paid,paving the way for more people to study for a degree. The work context enables apprentices to keep their jobs (if relevant) or to move into IT roles and start a computing degree without necessarily having computing qualifications; the degrees have no upper age limit. Extending the work-based approach of US cooperative education and student work placement models,apprenticeship degrees have been introduced to increase skills levels through a close partnership between universities and employers. This is particularly important in IT, where the sector is expanding, and employers are looking for both good technical and personal skills. With this model, employers are collaboratively involved in the design of the degrees and apprentices graduate with extensive work experience.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2020 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE)
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 30 Jun 2020


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