The five-year Civil Engineering Degree Apprenticeship programme will see successful apprentices graduate with a BEng (Hons) Civil Engineering degree, culminating in an end-point assessment carried out by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE). It will involve a mix of taught and work-based modules, with students spending around 20% of their time at Kingston University and the remaining 80% in the workplace.
Providing budding engineers with the opportunity to gain vital, hands-on industry experience alongside their studies is key to addressing a skills shortage in the profession, said Kingston University's Professor Mukesh Limbachiya.
The integrated approach to learning is intended to provide graduates with the knowledge and tools to hit the ground running when they begin their careers, said Limbachiya, who is interim head of the School of Engineering. The aim is that will also allow them to adapt quickly to the emerging needs of the industry.
"The engineering sector is experiencing something of a skills gap and we need to ensure we are addressing their needs – marrying technical expertise through studies with professional competencies from on-the-job experience," he said.
Degree apprenticeships would increasingly provide a significant route for tomorrow's engineers to gain skills, qualifications, knowledge and experience, said Limbachiya, as well as providing them with the toolkit to develop practical solutions for complex civil engineering projects.
The new programme was introduced to a range of industry leaders at a networking forum. Among those addressing delegates at the event was Andrew Stanley, head of education policy at the ICE, who said the pace of change in the industry meant the demand for flexible, experienced graduates had never been higher. "It is well-known that civil engineering currently has an age-profile skewed toward those approaching retirement," he said. "It is essential that the industry employs, trains, grows and retains its workforce, and figures show that those who have served apprenticeships are more likely to stay loyal to their organisation and sector."
Giving apprentices the chance to enrol on a degree programme simultaneously meant that they would be able to apply what they learn in their studies directly in a work setting, Stanley said. "There will always be a need to understand fundamental engineering principles, but it is the most adaptable, creative and outward-looking graduates who will always be in the highest demand," he added.