From education to employment

New qualifications launched to meet UK demand for digital skills

New government and industry-backed digital qualifications will provide the skills for a wide range of digital jobs

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

  • Degree Apprenticeships will revolutionise the way young people develop digital skills
  • new industry accredited short courses will set new standards for digital skills training

New government and industry-backed digital qualifications will provide the skills for a wide range of digital jobs, helping to fill the one million vacancies expected in the digital sector in the next decade.

The Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey will announce today (Wednesday 26 November 2014) that Degree Apprenticeships will allow young people to complete a full honours degree alongside their employment while paying no student fees and earning a wage throughout.

The first Degree Apprenticeships are to be launched in the digital sector, and are expected to suit people embarking on careers ranging from business analysis to software development and technology consultancy. The new programme includes a fully-integrated degree testing both academic learning and on-the-job practical training, and has been co-created by leading tech employers and top universities.

Ed Vaizey will also announce details of new industry-designed short courses to enhance digital skills across the workforce. The short courses will provide intensive training, with content that keeps pace with employers’ immediate needs and changing technologies, and will be delivered flexibly to suit learners’ needs. The new industry-accredited standard will give small businesses up and down the country the confidence to know that they can hire digital professionals with the skills they need.

Speaking at the launch of the Tech Partnership at IBM, Digital Economy Minister Ed Vaizey said:

These new digital qualifications are the latest example of government working in partnership with academia and industry to ensure that education and training routes are providing the skills which employers need now and in the future.

We have already put coding into the school curriculum and our rollout of superfast broadband, backed by over £1 billion government investment in our digital infrastructure, has now passed more than 1.5 million homes and businesses and is reaching 40,000 more each week.

A number of employers involved in the Tech Partnership, a group of firms working together to create the skills and jobs the digital industry needs, have already committed to offering Degree Apprenticeships. These include Accenture, BT, Capgemini, CGI, Ford, Fujitsu, GlaxoSmithKline, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), Hewlett Packard, IBM, John Lewis, Lloyds Banking Group, Network Rail and Tata Consulting Services. Universities including Aston, Exeter, Greenwich, Loughborough, Manchester Metropolitan, University College London, University of the West of England and Winchester will be supporting the courses and are working with employers to offer these degrees.

Tech Partnership board member and Capgemini UK Chairman, Christine Hodgson, said:

The government’s support for this new route into employment will enable young people to build the academic and practical skills needed for success in the tech sector and will help create the talent needed to boost the digital economy.

Richard Pettinger, Director, BSc/MSci Information Management for Business at University College London said:

We are delighted to be collaborating with employers and the government to create the new Degree Apprenticeships in technology solutions to help increase the flow of skills into the tech industry. These Degree Apprenticeship courses will open a new route for young people to build a career in technology with the support of government funding.

The short courses are backed by leading organisations including Accenture, ARM, BT, Cisco, Fujitsu, Google, IBM, Oracle, Quicksilva, Tata Consultancy Services, Telefonica (O2), BBC, Direct Line Group, HMRC, Jaguar Land Rover, Lowe and Partners, National Grid, Network Rail, Save the Children, Equanimity UK Ltd and Royal Mail.

Ed Vaizey will announce the new Degree Apprenticeships and short industry-designed courses to an audience of digital business leaders at the Tech Partnership launch event at IBM this evening (26 November 2014).

Notes to editors:

  1. About The Tech Partnership:
    • The Tech Partnership is a growing network of employers, collaborating to create the skills to accelerate the growth of the digital economy. Its leadership includes the CEOs of major companies in the tech industry, heads of technology from companies across the economy, and small company representation. The Tech Partnership is recognised by government as the industrial partnership for the information economy. It is supported by, and is taking forward, the work of e-skills UK.
  2. About Degree Apprenticeships:
    • prospective apprentices can apply to the companies that are offering the programmes once the vacancies are advertised in the new year. These companies will then work with the relevant universities to select the students most able to be successful in both the degree and their career.
    • government will fund 2 thirds of the costs of the training and course fees, up to a maximum cap which will be set following government approval. Employers will pay the apprentice a wage and contribute the other third of the cost of the training and course fees. This has been made possible by the £20 million funding announced at Budget 2014 including the commitment that government will fund higher education provision within the Apprenticeships programme
    • a young person doing the new programme will be employed and earning a wage throughout, not have to pay any student fees, and complete their apprenticeship with a full honours degree
    • the first Degree Apprenticeships will start in September 2015
    • this announcement reflects the government’s commitment to developing higher level skills through a range of routes and to accelerating the growth of the digital economy. This model breaks new ground by fully integrating on the job training and academic learning at degree level with courses co-designed by a range of employers and a range of universities specifically for apprentices, testing both the academic learning and on-the-job practical skills
    • companies can contact [email protected] for more information on how to get involved with Degree Apprenticeships in the digital sector and [email protected] for details of the apprenticeship trailblazer scheme
    • For more information on apprenticeships visit
  3. About the short courses for digital skills:
    • the new short courses will form part of a new industry-accredited standard for people working in the digital sector, giving people the confidence they are learning skills needed for a career in digital and giving small businesses the confidence they can recruit someone with the right skills for the job
    • the courses will provide skills in website development to meet the needs of small businesses that have little or no online presence. They will incorporate technical, business and interpersonal skills
    • the scheme will start with pilot short courses in website development, available from April 2015 from high quality providers in 2 locations in England. Those who are successful will gain a level 3 certification which confirms an individual has the skills to create an online presence for a small company
    • website development has been chosen for the pilots as a proven area of need. Only 61% of small and medium sized businesses have a website and just over half of these are selling their goods or services on-line (BIS, Small Business Survey (2012)). The annual turnover of UK SMEs could be boosted by £18.8 billion per year if they all sold and marketed online. Website sales in 2012 amounted to £164 billion, up from £92 billion in 2008 (ONS, Monitoring e-Commerce, 2014. (Only captures value of website sales from firms with at least 10 employees))
    • The short courses are aimed at:
      • companies wanting to up-skill their existing staff to either create an online presence for the first time or improve their online presence
      • young people, unemployed people, graduates or returners to work wanting to move into digital business careers
      • people wanting to move into technology from another career, including going freelance
      • people wanting to start their own e-enabled business
  4. For media enquiries on the Tech Partnership contact Ed Sexton, [email protected] T: 020 7963 8972 M: 07842 141089
  5. To contact the BIS Press Office: Christina Murphy, [email protected] T: 020 7215 5245

Published 26 November 2014

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