Newcastle University: New apprentices join scheme to launch their careers in technology

A new higher degree apprenticeship programme developed by Newcastle University and global professional services company Accenture welcomed its first 12 new recruits last month.

The Step Into Tech programme, which was launched in January, is aimed at individuals without technical backgrounds who want to enter a career in the technology sector.

The apprenticeship started with an intense month-long programming boot camp run by the Institute of Coding so the Accenture cohort of ten women and two men could start their apprenticeships in January 2021. The apprentices will gain both a Master of Science degree from Newcastle University, as well as the Level 7 apprenticeship qualification in 21 months rather than the standard 24 months.

In addition to obtaining a nationally recognised master’s degree during the programme they will also gain invaluable work experience at Accenture’s Advanced Technology Centre in the North East where they will develop expertise across a range of capabilities including digital, web, data, cyber security, cloud computing, innovation, project management, application and infrastructure development.

Professor Aad van Moorsel, Director of the Institute of Coding at Newcastle University said:

“We are delighted to work with Accenture to develop the programme and to enable their new employees to start the Software Engineering Degree Apprenticeship this January, especially in light of the pandemic. This Step into Tech programme between Accenture and Newcastle University is a great confidence boost for the region during a global pandemic and highlights the importance of the North East as a hub for technology-driven companies.”

Developing software engineering skills
The apprentices come from a broad range of backgrounds, including a number from the region, as well as several who will be relocating to the North East to take up their roles. Whilst working full time for Accenture, through their apprenticeships the new recruits will study cyber security, leadership and innovation management, and emerging technologies to retrain into IT-focussed careers.

Newcastle University’s Software Engineering Degree Apprenticeship was launched in October 2020 to help close the significant digital skills gap and address structural issues in the technology sector such as a poor representation of women in the industry.

Karen Marshall, Apprentice, Education and Engagement Lead at Accenture said:

“Digital skills have never been more important and, as a result, we saw an increase in job-seekers looking to retrain to develop software engineering skills. The flexibility and support from Newcastle University’s Institute of Coding in delivering an intensive boot camp to help the new recruits join the existing masters’ group was crucial in making this a reality. At a time where apprenticeships are needed more than ever, we are proud to have jointly enabled 12 new recruits to re-train and upskill as Software Engineers, adding much needed skills to benefit Accenture’s work in the North East and beyond.”

Jen Lee, Apprentice Software Engineer said:

“As someone who has experienced first-hand the challenges of today’s job market, initiatives like this one provide an excellent stepping-stone to retrain into a technology career. The opportunity to not only study a master’s degree, but to also gain invaluable industry experience in parallel, will equip me with the skills necessary to succeed in my technology career – something that may not otherwise have been possible.”

Xander Brouwer, Institute of Coding Partnerships Manager at Newcastle University said:

“It has been a pleasure to work with Accenture to help them launch their reskilling programme and welcome their new employees onto our Software Engineering Degree Apprenticeship. Accenture has stepped up to create new jobs during an unprecedented time and especially given the pandemic we have been keen to support them in their objectives. We particularly celebrate Accenture’s dedication during National Apprenticeship Week (8-14 February).”

Professor René Koglbauer, Dean of Lifelong Learning and Professional Practice at Newcastle University said:

“It is fantastic to see our Institute of Coding working so closely with industry partners such as Accenture to help address the digital skills gaps in the region. It is a great boost for the region to be able to develop and retain tech talent here, and to attract people to move to the North East to develop their careers. The high proportion of women recruited is also incredibly encouraging in helping to address the gender balance in tech.”


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