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Technical education expert outlines importance of degree apprenticeships for developing key career skills during visit with Kingston University nursing students

Posted Tuesday 2 November 2021

Technical education expert outlines importance of degree apprenticeships for developing key career skills during visit with Kingston University nursing students Kingston University nursing associate degree apprenticeship students spoke to Chief Executive of the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education Jennifer Coupland about their experiences.

The value of degree apprenticeships was on the agenda as Kingston University's nursing associate students and staff received a visit from the Chief Executive of the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education.

Jennifer Coupland, former Director of Professional and Technical Education in the Department for Education, met and spoke with students on the University's nursing associate degree apprenticeship programme and watched them in practice. She also found out more about both the nursing associate and social work degree apprenticeship courses from academics teaching on the programmes.

Degree apprenticeships give students the opportunity to learn and upskill while remaining in full-time employment in a related field – something championed by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education, who work with employer groups to develop high quality apprenticeships and technical qualifications.

The recent expansion in the breadth of degree apprenticeships available was an exciting development that provided new opportunities for career development, Ms Coupland said.

"Degree apprenticeships are a great way for people to gain new skills while in full-time employment – as demonstrated by the inspirational nursing and healthcare apprentices at Kingston University. Finding the right option for you is really important – and that is why we are proud there are so many different ones available and that are accessible to all ages," she said.

Two of the students the Institute's chief executive spoke to during her visit to the University were Lily Weaver and Nadine Powell, who are both in the final year of their degree apprenticeship programme while working with the elderly at St Helier Hospital in Carshalton, Surrey. Lily, who comes from a family of nurses, first heard about degree apprenticeships when talking with district nurses she was working alongside about potential career opportunities. "They made me realise there's so many pathways in healthcare I can access and the degree apprenticeship course is really focused on the application to nursing and the core aspects you want to put into practice, so it has really helped to develop my skills," she said.

Nadine originally wanted to be a midwife but had a change heart after becoming a mother. "After I gave birth to my son, I had some time to think about my career and I decided I wanted to be a nurse – I love getting to know my patients, their walk of life and helping them to get better. This programme allows me to balance my job, studying and home life in a way I never imagined could be possible," she said.

Programme lead for the nursing associate degree apprenticeship at Kingston University Lucie Llewellyn said the opportunity for students to earn while they learn was a huge incentive that had provided new opportunities to expand their skillsets. "A number of the students desperately wanted to build on their knowledge and further develop their careers and this allows them to do that as well as taking what they learn back into practice in their full-time jobs – so these programmes are vitally important, particularly in healthcare," she said.

Professor Mukesh Limbachiya, the University's Head of Apprenticeships, has overseen the development of a portfolio that also offers degree apprenticeships in adult nursing, civil and infrastructure engineering, building surveying, environmental science, social work and quantity surveying consultancy. "We are putting the right building blocks in place to build on existing expertise for delivering high-quality compliant apprenticeships consistently, as well as supporting the needs of the employers in different sectors," he said.

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