University awarded funding to support disadvantaged pupils to access degree apprenticeships

11th October 2017

Sheffield Hallam University has been awarded government funding to develop an innovative programme to identify, support and enable young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to access life changing degree apprenticeship programmes.

The funding, awarded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), forms phase two of the Government's two-year Degree Apprenticeships Development Fund (DADF) programme. Last year, the University secured £500,000 through phase one of the DADF to create and develop a portfolio of degree apprenticeship programmes, which the first cohort of apprentices embarked on last month. The University's successful phase two bid will support and develop the work Sheffield Hallam already does within the region to improve access and participation of young people from less advantaged backgrounds in higher education. The funding will be used to enhance the University's provision as part of the National Collaborative Outreach Programme (NCOP); a government commitment to double participation of students from specific regions in higher education by 2020. The programme will be delivered through specialist support, by engaging directly with teachers, parents and students at NCOP identified schools, and recognising potential degree apprentices within the school. Specialist careers advice will focus on access to higher education through degree apprenticeships, including providing opportunities for pupils to meet with potential employers through arranged recruitment events. Additional support will also be provided by Gradcore, a social enterprise recruiter, to ensure potential degree apprentices are fully prepared for a recruitment process including assessment centres and interviews. Degree apprenticeships are designed to offer young people and existing employees opportunities to pursue study at university alongside real-life work experience, which is paid for by the employer and the government. The University's strategy has a strong focus on its place within the community to enhance economic growth, educational health and the quality of life in the region. This commitment is demonstrated by the recently launched initiative South Yorkshire Futures, a government-backed social mobility partnership focused on improving educational attainment and raising aspiration for the regions young people, at every stage of education. The new apprenticeships will play a key part in achieving these aspirations. Professor Chris Husbands, Vice-Chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University said: "Sheffield Hallam has been a trailblazer in offering higher and degree apprenticeships which we were able to develop further last year, especially through collaborative regional partnerships to match the skills gap in the area. We also recognise how degree apprenticeships can act as a beacon of opportunity for individuals to progress onto further education and employment, which can have a transformative positive effect on their lives. "We are passionate about matching talented individuals from a range of backgrounds with the region's businesses and believe this programme will develop a sustainable approach to identifying, preparing and matching young and diverse talent with employers in the region and beyond."

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