The global professional services firm PwC is working with the University to help students enhance their real-world technology credentials.

The jointly-developed Degree Apprenticeship programme, which is currently recruiting its third cohort, was developed to help address a UK technology skills gap and increase diversity in the sector.

Cathy Baxter, Early Identification Leader at PwC, said: “The appetite for technology in our business continues to grow at an unprecedented rate. To continue to grow our business and deliver the required technological change, we needed to take a long term view to securing the right talent.

“Around four years ago, we started to think about different ways to approach growing our technology pipeline. We decided to recruit talented technology specialists and recognised that we would be prudent to invest in a programme that would help us grow our own talent.

“As a result, we identified an opportunity to work with education providers such as Leeds and make use of the government’s apprenticeship levy.”

Students on the programme undertake a four-year BSc in Computer Science at the University, working closely with PwC throughout their studies to develop a holistic understanding of the rapidly changing technology landscape. During the apprenticeship, students complete two 10-week placements and a full-year placement at PwC.

Provided they perform well and achieve a 2:1 in their technology degree, students can secure a future with PwC following the completion of the course.

Leeds is dynamic and forward-thinking as a University, and it has one of the top Computer Science Schools in the UK. 

Cathy Baxter, Early Identification Leader at PwC

A partner of choice

As Cathy Baxter explains, Leeds was always a partner of choice for PwC.

“We already had a good relationship with the University, so it was one of our leading choices,” she said.

“We could tell from the start that the University was on the same page as us. Leeds is dynamic and forward-thinking as a University, and it has one of the top Computer Science Schools in the UK. This was really important because we wanted to work with a partner who shared the same vision for the programme.”

PwC and the University work together as ‘partners in learning’ to deliver the degree apprenticeship.

Throughout the programme, apprentices have regular contact with PwC and learn key workplace behaviours such as ethics and professional resilience. Apprentices hold quarterly tripartite meetings with their tutor and the dedicated PwC programme manager to track their academic and professional development. PwC also delivers regular sessions at the University to provide networking opportunities and careers advice to students.

The programme is designed so students will get a breadth of understanding of technology from an early stage.

Cathy Baxter added: “What we decide is important in technology now might not even exist in five years, and the things we want students to think about may not have even been developed yet; so, we want students to have a broad understanding and a holistic view of technology.

“During their work placements in the business, students will rotate across a number of technology areas such as cyber security and data analytics. We are aiming to develop well-rounded individuals who really understand the future of technology.”

Delivering business impact

PwC have already realised benefits from working with the University.

Cathy Baxter said: “We have been really happy with the quality of work the apprentices have produced; in many cases they performed above expectations, which is testament to our partners in learning approach. As a cohort, their absolute passion for technology and innovation has shone through. The students have a great work ethic and an above-and-beyond attitude which will serve them well in their future at PwC.”

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