Apprenticeship DegreesDavid William MacKenzie

A new route for development

After sixteen years as a tradesman ‘on the tools’ as sheetmetal fabricator, David William MacKenzie joined GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Montrose four years ago and began to consider the next stage in his career with a move into management in mind. However, with few qualifications and a young family to support, considering sacrificing employment for formal education was not an option.

Through a chance conversation with a colleague, David heard about the Graduate Apprenticeship (GA) programmes and the opportunity this offered to study for a degree whilst remaining in the work place applying the knowledge, skills and theory directly back into the job role. This blend of academic study and work based learning was exactly what David was looking for encouraging him to approach his employer and be proactive about seeking a place on a GA programme.

I wasn’t ready for further education when I left school. It wasn’t until later in life that I wanted to add technical understanding to the hands-on experience. Luckily, I found out about the Graduate Apprenticeship through a colleague and it just ticked all the boxes.

At 38, David jokes about being ‘possibly the oldest apprentice’ however he embraced the opportunity to embark on a full degree programme whilst continuing working which crucially enabled him to ‘earn while you learn’.

Keen to attend Strathclyde due to its strong reputation in Engineering and links with industry and with the support of GSK, David was nominated and successfully secured a place on the second cohort of the Engineering: Design and Manufacture GA in 2018.

Prior to commencing study, David undertook a 9 week ‘Maths for Engineering’ module to prepare him for University study. Dr Susanne Boyle, Programme Lead for the EDM Graduate Apprenticeship noted the dedication and resilience demonstrated by David during the pre-entry course and strongly believes that beginning the GA learner journey at that early stage is a good process for all prospective EDM candidates to maximise potential for success in the four-year degree programme.

Recognition & reward

David credits the tremendous support which he has received from GSK as well as the unwavering encouragement of his wife and family, for his recent success of been awarded the Graduate Apprenticeship Rising Star Award at the 2019 Scottish Apprenticeship Awards. This award category showcased the dedication and commitment of Graduate Apprentices who have chosen the route to further their career and who make a significant contribution to their organisation’s performance with David being praised for his “dedication and perseverance”.

It is great to be recognised for the effort that I am putting in. Life is busy. There sometimes needs to be 26 hours in a day with a demanding full time job, a family with two young children and a degree but if you really want it, the opportunity is there with a Graduate Apprenticeship.

Designed in collaboration with industry

Strathclyde has, and continues to, work in partnership with employers to develop the GA degrees and it’s been really beneficial to have that opportunity to shape the programme. The GA is demanding and it’s not always easy for David to juggle but we really see the value that it brings both for him personally and our business.

Susan Turriff, Learning & Development Manager, GSK Montrose

The strong tripartite relationship between an employer, the learner and the University is the key to the success of work based Graduate Apprenticeship degrees and Strathclyde are committed to delivering a high quality experience for all employer partners.

Through engagement events and discussions, employers have shaped the Apprenticeship degrees we deliver at Strathclyde.

Strathclyde’s EDM Degree

The Graduate Apprenticeship Engineering: Design and Manufacture (EDM) degree develops professionally qualified engineers eligible for IEng level membership. Graduate Apprentices acquire underpinning knowledge and understanding via a blended and online learning delivery mode with core engineering competencies (UK Standards for Professional Engineering Competence, IEng) being developed through an integrated work based learning curriculum.

Learning in the workplace

David, like all Graduate Apprentice, is supported throughout his studies by a dedicated Work Based Learning Advisor who meets with him learner on a regular basis to monitor their progress on the programme and support the development of their e-portfolio of work based learning evidence and claims of competence.

Through our approach, Work Based Learning is not designed to be additional workplace tasks, but acts as integral part of the degree programme.

I have the wonderful job of helping GAs and employers identify how best to showcase the knowledge and skills they develop in the workplace.  The dedication David has for achieving his goals is phenomenal and when I recommended him for entry for the award to GSK is was clear that they wanted to recognise this too.
Susan Walker, Graduate Apprentice Learning Advisor

Flexible delivery model

Strathclyde Graduate Apprentices have access to our award-winning digital platform and will access course materials via our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), Myplace.

In addition, Graduate Apprentices also attend on campus days typically one day per month for the duration of their studies. These on campus sessions allow for the face-to-face delivery of teaching and other activities whilst also allowing Graduate Apprentices to interact with their tutors and network with their peers.

Skills for the future

Graduate Apprenticeships are an opportunity for organisations to not only broaden the talent pool by recruiting new staff into their business but also to develop existing employees.

Employers can nominate individuals who are in a suitable job role which will enable them to complete the work based learning elements of the programme.