Tech Partnership Degrees, a not-for-profit that offers accreditation and development of digital degrees and apprenticeship degrees in the UK, is partnering with industry body TechUK to expand the reach of the qualifications it supports.
To try to ensure graduates are employable in the tech sector, Tech Partnership Degrees develops higher educational courses alongside industry to make sure the skills taught for degrees and apprenticeship degrees make students more employable and ready to walk into particular roles.
Joining forces with TechUK will give Tech Partnership Degrees access to more industry employers to help develop its Tech Industry Gold accreditation for higher educational courses.
Gillian Keegan, apprenticeships and skills minister, said: “The tech sector continues to play a vital role helping to plug skills gaps, level up opportunities and support our economic recovery.
“The government is working on a range of initiatives to enable students of all ages to get into the high-skill, high-wage jobs that higher technical education can lead to. TechUK are doing brilliant work helping employers to find the computer programmers, engineers, electricians and technicians they need. It’s great to see that TechUK are focused, as we are, on young people getting a head start in their careers and giving adults the opportunity to retrain.”
According to research by Tech Partnership Degrees, the average unemployment rate for computer science graduates in the UK is about 8% six months after graduation, whereas graduates from Tech Partnership Degrees have around 3% unemployment six months after graduation.
By developing the degrees and degree apprenticeships with the help of employers in the tech industry, Tech Partnership Degrees aims to ensure programmes are relevant and up to date.
Partnering with industry is one of the ways to ensure graduates’ employability, according to Tom Lovell, managing director of Tech Partnership Degrees, who joined the not-for-profit in September 2020.
“Computer science degrees have historically been among the lowest employability rates of any degree,” said Lovell, adding that it “seems wrong” that digital skills are so in demand while there is such a “mismatch” between the skills employers need and the skills graduates have.
But as well as a lack of talent, there is also a lack of diversity in the tech sector, with many women choosing not to pursue further education in science, technology engineering and maths (STEM) because of misconceptions about these subjects – a decision that many later regret.
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Lovell said Tech Partnership Degrees aims to increase the representation of women on its courses, which its new partnership with TechUK could expand further.
“Historically, the tech industry has been challenged by its diversity, and one of the key aims of Tech Partnership Degrees is to increase diversity,” he said.
About 31% of Tech Partnership Degree graduates are female, compared with 14% of computer science graduates, something the not-for-profit has achieved by focusing on the problems that technology can be used to solve to appeal to a wider audience, as well as making the “business element” of the courses clear, so that they appeal to a wider group of people.
Although some people have been working on their digital skills during lockdown, many agree that the tech sector will be vital in helping to get the UK back on its feet during the coronavirus pandemic.
Lovell added: “Getting Britain back to work is essential to the economic recovery. The tech sector has played a leading role in job creation over recent years and the requirement for high-level digital skills will underpin many of the jobs of the future.
“By collaborating across industry and education, we are able to ensure a focus on developing the skills employers seek. I’m excited by the opportunities this new partnership will bring, to broaden the reach of the work we do, to widen participation in the tech sector and to help set people up for successful digital careers.”