As part of National Apprenticeship Week, new MP for Wantage, David Johnston (Con), visited Jisc's Harwell office on 7 February to meet young people working towards degree apprenticeships.
Mr Johnston, who was CEO at the Social Mobility Foundation for 10 years until his election to parliament in December, met Nicole Stewart, apprentice cyber security analyst; Richard Hennessy, cyber security apprentice; Zohara Shemakh, digital technology solutions apprentice; and Michael Murray, network access apprentice.
They felt that on-the-job training, with a wage, was a better choice for them than university. Richard said:
“Choosing the apprenticeship route over going to university enabled me to earn while working and gain invaluable industry experience in the cyber security team. During my studies, Jisc has supported me throughout, offering flexibility in helping to balance work with study and also provided additional training outside my degree, allowing me to develop my skills further and even earn some industry qualifications along the way.”
And Zohara added:
“I choose the apprenticeship route because I always found I could learn more easily when I had hands-on experience. Being an apprentice with Jisc gave me a number of great opportunities across many teams and directorates and I work with a really supportive team.”
Out of a total of 14 apprentices, Nicole, Richard, Zohara and Michael are among 11 completing degree courses with Jisc, which is listed by RateMyApprenticeship at 24 in its top 100 apprenticeship employers. A further cohort of up to 20 apprentices will be recruited this year.
Mr Johnston, who is passionate about the role of education in society, said:
“The government’s initiative to create more apprenticeships offers young people the opportunity to combine vocational training with high-level academic education at university.
“But it’s vital that organisations offer quality on-the-job training, and initiatives such as RateMyApprenticeship are valuable benchmarks. I’m particularly impressed that the wide range of apprenticeships Jisc offers will equip learners with the high-level technical skills the UK workforce needs.”
Jisc CEO, Paul Feldman, who hosted Mr Johnston during his visit, said:
"It’s absolutely vital that everyone has access to training and education in high-demand skills areas. That’s why Jisc, as the UK’s digital partner for colleges and universities, is committed to playing a part.
“We are continuing to support young people to earn and learn by expanding our apprenticeship scheme and this year alone, we’re aiming to recruit up to 20 apprentices. This will build on our apprenticeship scheme success, which, since 2017, has seen people from all backgrounds thrive in areas such as cyber security, data science and software development.”