Manchester Metropolitan University was quick to grasp the opportunities presented by degree apprenticeships, identifying that this new way of learning had the potential to expand their philosophy of preparing students to make an impact in the world of work.

As an institution that is proud of its vocational heritage, the University delivers an academically robust and applied educational experience that translates high-quality research into programmes that are industry-relevant.

This approach hadn’t gone unnoticed. In early 2015, a few months after the University had taken a leading role in the creation of the UK’s first degree apprenticeship standard, the Digital & Technology Solutions Professional, Lloyds Banking Group, which was chairing the Trailblazer Group, reached out to Manchester Met to provide higher education insight.

It quickly became clear that the two organisations shared a vision of the potential for degree apprenticeships to provide a sustainable and innovative new path for people to enter higher-level digital careers.

The two organisations shared a vision of the potential for degree apprenticeships to provide a sustainable and innovative new path for people to enter higher-level digital careers.

After an intense period of hard work the standard was approved and the process of transforming an idea into an effective and deliverable higher education apprenticeship programme began.

Input from Lloyds Banking Group – along with other industry partners such as AstraZeneca, Barclays and Thales – ensured synergy between the curriculum and delivery method of the degree apprenticeship, and the organisations’ digital and technology requirements. The partners also advised on the pathways that would give them the flexibility to resource roles across the organisations.

Director of Apprenticeships at Manchester Met, Liz Gorb said: “Forward-looking organisations such as Lloyds Banking Group and other key employer partners dared to try something new and innovative. We were confident that with our capabilities in work-based learning and degree education, combined with their industry knowledge, we would be able to deliver a fantastic learning experience for apprentices and positive outcomes for employers.”

In September 2015, the University started delivery with a pioneering group of 60 apprentices, from 10 employers, including 12 from Lloyds Banking Group – a cohort that will also become the University’s first degree apprentice graduates this July.

A continual improvement plan

The University has maintained close working links with Lloyds Banking Group, and all employer partners, continuing to learn more about their operations, ambitions, and social values. This ongoing process encompasses both formal mechanisms and processes, as well as open lines of communication and trust.

Monthly management reports ensure a shared understanding of the progress of the Lloyds Banking Group learners, and outline the interventions being implemented by the University to support some and stretch others when necessary. Also, a dedicated Account Manager joins quarterly calls, to keep up-to-date with developments within Lloyds Banking Group, as they continue to push for digital improvements that will enhance both customers’ and colleagues’ experiences. Lloyds Banking Group is an active member of the University’s Digital & Technology Solutions Programme Advisory Board, which guides the programmes future development and inputs to the University’s continual improvement plan for the programme.

Through their Helping Britain Prosper Plan, Lloyds Banking Group is committed to improving the digital capability and tech education for people of all ages and backgrounds, as well as encouraging their own staff to grasp new digital opportunities within the organisation. They have continued to invest in offering degree apprenticeship opportunities and the partnership now boasts a cohort of over 50 degree apprentices. From January 2019, they enrolled colleagues on the UK’s first TP Degrees Gold-Accredited Digital & Technology Solutions Master’s Apprenticeship at Manchester Met.

Tailored solutions

In order to maximise the effectiveness of the degree apprenticeships for Lloyds Banking Group employees, the University has implemented a number of tailored solutions.

A few weeks before the official induction, a group of Lloyds Banking Group degree apprentices got their first experience of programming, learning how code controls almost everything we operate and using Raspberry Pi computers to make robots. They were introduced to the University’s facilities and the buildings that they would become so familiar with over the proceeding four years. This enabled the group, who are being taught as a closed cohort of software engineers, to start to build a community of practice, and get to know colleagues who travel from across England to take part on the programme.

Dr Raheel Nawaz, Director of the Digital & Technology Solutions degree apprenticeship, said: “We are delighted to be working with Lloyds Banking Group, who were one of our founding partners on the programme four years ago. They are really embracing the transformative potential of technology and through their investment in apprenticeships they are ensuring they are well-prepared for what the future holds.”

More than degree apprenticeships

The relationship has also expanded to more than degree apprenticeships and the University has worked alongside Lloyds Banking Group to deliver on other key priorities, such as raising the profile of digital careers among young people.

In 2017, the University hosted the first Lloyds Banking Group’s Digital Futures event that brought together industry partners – such as Facebook, Wipro, Accenture and the BBC – to inspire the next generation of digital innovators. More than 500 Year 10 students packed into the University’s Business School and heard TED-style talks, got hands on with technology and were inspired by young digital professionals – including degree apprentices. More recently, the University has inputted information about degree apprenticeships at Lloyds Banking Group careers events in schools and colleges.

Both partners are committed to strengthening the partnership going forward and celebrating the success of the degree apprentices as they continue to develop and progress within the organisation.

Find out more about Manchester Metropolitan University’s Degree and Master’s Apprenticeship programmes.