National Apprentice Week 2022: Meet the academic Wendy Fowles-Sweet

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As part of National Apprentice Week 2022, we will be highlighting some of our Apprentices, Employers and Academics.

In this Meet the Academic, we caught up with Wendy Fowles-Sweet, Professional and Workforce Development Director (School of Engineering).

Thinking about your engagement with apprentices, what are the main benefits you can see for someone thinking about becoming a Higher or Degree apprentice?

Work Experience to demonstrate competency, whilst developing the skills, behaviours and knowledge required.

The associated degree programme provides these, in conjunction with an education to broaden the individual’s experience. By learning from one another, individuals can develop the skills they need in the workplace, and how to network to continue to develop their skills.

However, the work experience element demonstrates that they can apply that learning to a given context and achieve a useful result. The context of this result may not always be in their specialist area; the skills they have gained from the degree level education can apply in a wide range of workplace activities. The individual is not just able, they can demonstrate their capability.

My interpretation of the three apprenticeship key words:

  • Intent – what are they learning to do
  • Implementation – actually using their learning on a particular activity / project
  • Impact – demonstrating that their learning can achieve the required end goal.

Of course, there is also the matter of being paid whilst studying part time!

What role do you think Higher and Degree apprenticeships have towards widening access and participation within Higher Education, and the benefits for the local economy?

If these are offered to school leavers correctly, they have the potential to be a major force in any local economy. The apprenticeship route allows many students access to higher education as their careers develop; the staged educational opportunity sometimes being something they had never considered themselves capable of achieving whilst working through the pre-18 / pre-16 education system.

However, this requires a lot of work to engage the schools, who would prefer to see leavers heading straight to university. In addition, employers need to see relevant examples about how taking on apprentices can benefit them.
Where the three aspects come together, higher and degree apprenticeships are a powerful force for further education.

What do you see as the role of apprenticeships in UWE Bristol and beyond in the future?

Apprenticeships should become a core offering by UWE. Our links to industry, business and the public sector, combined with our outreach activities can help us develop this.

The other aspect to consider is that if school leavers find out more about apprenticeships at all levels, they could find the offer of a salary whilst learning overrides the longer period of learning. This would impact the full time applications.

If employers want useful graduates and believe apprenticeships are the way forward, UWE must be ready to support this route s a core activity.

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