First graduation of degree apprentices in the North West of England

14 partner employers were on hand as 48 students graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University

It was in 2015 that the Government introduced the degree apprenticeship programme, combining part-time study at a university with ‘real world’ workplace learning.

That same year, a group of students from Manchester Metropolitan University were among the inaugural participants in the initiative. On July 18 they became the first in the North West of England to graduate.

“I’m ecstatic that I’ve graduated with a first-class honours degree,” said Jessica Wong, who studied digital and technology solutions, and is set to continue her career as a software engineer at Thales UK.

“I’m now focused on forming long-term career plans to shape my professional path and I want to develop my technical skills and work towards other certifications. I would recommend degree apprenticeships to anyone.”

Manchester Met has launched nine degree apprenticeship programmes since 2015. In May, for example, we reported on the launch of a collaboration with Fujitsu on a STEM initiative.

Degree apprentices received the congratulations of Manchester Met’s Chancellor, Lord Mandelson

“In partnership with employers, we are looking forward to continuing the development of practice-focused programmes that are meeting the needs of industry, individuals and society,” said Professor Malcolm Press, Manchester Met’s Vice-Chancellor. “[Our] commitment to degree apprenticeships emphasises the leading role the university plays in ensuring our students are ready to take on the challenges of the modern workplace.”

Bentley Motors and Barclays joined Thales UK and 11 other employers at the degree ceremony in Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall, as 48 students celebrated their graduation.

Since that first cohort began their studies at Manchester Met, more than 1,100 degree apprentices have followed in their footsteps, working alongside more than 220 employer partners.

“Look out for these rising stars – they will continue to inspire our next generation of engineers,” said John Peachey, head of software engineering at Thales UK. “The degree apprenticeship has involved academic study for a degree, whilst performing to the high standards required of a Thales engineer. This is an amazing achievement and a great reward for all of the late nights and long days required to satisfy demanding assignment deadlines and exam revision.”