Grasping the Opportunity for Practical Learning
After attending an information session with Morgan Stanley at his high school, Ewan Robertson’s plans to go straight into an Electrical Engineering degree programme quickly changed.
Despite planning to follow a traditional school to university path, he was intrigued when heard more about the opportunities to work with Morgan Stanley whilst also completing an IT Software Development degree with Strathclyde. Having researched and explored the benefits of a work based Graduate Apprenticeship (GA) programme, Ewan decided that this would be an ideal route for him into practical learning and professional development.
The culture at Morgan Stanley, where there is clear opportunity for growth and personal development is actively encouraged, was particularly attractive to Ewan. The annual rotations through the business teams and dedicated support from a Pastoral Manager allows employees in training to experience all aspects of the business whilst being actively encouraged to raise their professional profile within the organisation and network. Also being paired with an apprentice who is a year ahead of them allows for mentoring and support to new employees who are not only adjusting to the working world, but learning to balance degree studies at the same time. For Ewan, it offers the ideal environment to grow and he has an exceptionally proactive approach to developing himself for the role he wants in the future.
Whilst Ewan is thriving in the practical, on-the-job aspect of his GA, he has also embraced learning the theoretical basis and foundations that his academic studies bring. He sees the greater understanding and appreciation for what he is doing in his role because of his studies as one of the main benefits of the programme.
You get that greater level of appreciation as you are doing the work at the same time. You are not just learning for learnings’ sake but seeing that applied and the benefits that come from it. So you just have that better level of understanding in practice.
Striking the Work-Study-Life Balance
When embarking on a long term programme such as the four-year BSc(Hons) GA programme, finding a balance of time can be difficult. At Strathclyde, we have always strongly advised our employer partners to provided one day per week for GAs as protected study time even though learners only need to attend campus days for face-to-face teaching once per month.
Ewan has found a way to make it work for him by simply adding an hour per day onto this normal working day for doing some studies.
Just an hour each day after work means that I can have my weekends free. That daily hour plus our study day per week means you can get it all completed without it taking over
Having successfully adjusted to the fully-online delivery of the GA course during the COVID pandemic, Ewan does miss the on campus face-to-face teaching days once per month but now sees the Strathclyde delivery model as an unexpected benefit.
Because so much of the programme was already online there was very little transition and disruption which was a huge benefit
Peer to peer learning
Ewan is also enjoying the perspective and insight that being part of a varied cohort of learners that the GA offers. With a mix of learners from different organisations and backgrounds, there is the opportunity to also learn from others.
During the campus days, we all share what we have been working on and in the group tasks, you experience what others can bring giving a different perspective and you can definitely learn from each other and others experiences
A learner-centred environment
At Strathclyde, worked based learning is integrated into our degree programmes and we employ dedicated Work Based Learning Advisors (WBLA) who are a key part of our Faculty teaching teams. These individuals bring a wealth of industry experience as well as a background in work based assessment.
Ewan and all Strathclyde Graduate Apprentices are supported throughout their studies by their WBLA whom they meet on a regular basis to monitor their progress on the programme and support the development of their e-portfolio of evidence for use should they wish to apply for Professional Accreditation upon completion of their degree studies.
Ewan’s WBLA, Fraser Macdonald, is based in the Department of Computer & Information Sciences where our learners are empowered to not only be able to deal with challenges that organisational life can bring, but to be able to actively take advantage of the opportunities it presents to widen their learning and develop a rounded set of competencies.
For technology work based learning, we utilise the Skills Framework for the Information Age as our competency framework. This is a global digital skills framework that allows a high degree of configuration, both in terms of skill levels and skill types, allowing us to tailor work-based learning competency assessment for each individual Learner, no matter what their role or how their situation evolves.
This framework embraces a wider set of competencies, such as business skills and autonomy, which are necessary for the apprentice to make a positive impact in the workplace and to progress their career. Fraser Macdonald, Work Based Learning Advisor
As Ewan continues to thrive in his studies, Fraser is there to support him and ensure that his degree actively assists and supports Ewan to achieve what he wants in the future. There is no doubt that Ewan is making the most of the opportunities that Morgan Stanley have made available and carving out his future career in tech.
Designed in partnership with industry
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 as well as learners.
Through engagement events and discussions, employers have shaped the Apprenticeship degrees we deliver at Strathclyde. This has resulted in programmes which do not only bring value and opportunity to the learner, but also to our employer partners.
Developing essential 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.