London South Bank University has long been a leader in employer sponsored study. Now, with funding from our local council, HEFCE and from LSBU we are creating a new “powerhouse” for higher and degree apprenticeships in the heart of south London with a £12M investment.

Today, some 7000 LSBU students are sponsored by around 1000 employers. Most of these students study part time on degree and HNC and HND courses in key areas such as construction, engineering and health and social care. When the government announced it wanted to grow higher and degree apprenticeships we were keen to bring to bear our decades of experience of other forms of employer sponsored study.

LSBU already plays a key role in the educational and business landscape of south London. We are part of a family of educational providers which includes an Academy school and University Technical College, both of which feature engineering-oriented education and are sponsored by leading companies such as Skanska. Through our wider enterprise activities we work with hundreds of local businesses, including over 600 which have received business growth support from LSBU staff and students (funded by the European Social Fund).

LSBU’s local council, Southwark aims to grow substantially the number of apprentices in the borough and we have agreed to work together to create a gateway into apprenticeships. LSBU’s new Institute for Professional and Technical Education (IPTE) will provide that gateway. It will smooth the way into part time education for those in work, initially for qualification levels 3-6; and eventually spanning all levels by offering apprenticeships through the wider LSBU group and beyond. For example, with Degree Apprenticeship Development Funding from HEFCE we are working with FE College partners to develop a series of apprenticeships to meet the needs of the automotive industry and its supply chain.

The IPTE’s hub will be our historic Passmore building which will re-open in 2018. Initially, the focus will be on STEM (primarily construction and engineering) and health-related careers, but the aim is to broaden to other professional areas where there are significant local career opportunities, for example in hospitality and management. The institute will provide:

• A gateway for learners on higher and degree apprenticeships and other employer supported programmes
• A one stop shop for employers seeking to get involved in sponsored study
• Careers advice and guidance for local people
• Teaching facilities to supplement access to university technical facilities
• Personal and academic support for learners

LSBU has nearly 200 students on higher and degree apprenticeships in construction and related subjects. We are now awaiting approval of further construction, engineering, health and business management higher and degree apprenticeship standards which will fulfil the requirements of many of our employer partners. With these and other programmes we hope to grow our annual intake of higher and degree apprentices by over five-fold in the next few years.

LSBU committed to higher and degree apprenticeships just over a year ago. We have since made huge strides in terms of developing the courses and infrastructure and the employer relationships needed to make that commitment a reality. There’s much to do; but, as the UK’s Entrepreneurial University of the Year, we are bringing all our creativity and energy to making a success of providing the higher and degree apprenticeships that our learners, businesses and the UK need.