Research highlighted as at start of PwC-Leeds degree apprenticeship teaching
Thirty-six students are among the first in the UK to be welcomed on to the PwC computer science degree apprenticeship launched in partnership with Leeds to grow a new generation of technology talent.
Visitors from PwC, one of the UK’s largest graduate employers, greeted the students at the University’s School of Computing this week. Jon Andrews, PwC’s Head of Technology, spoke to the group about their role in developing future skills and ideas for an increasingly digital world.
The innovative degree programme will see the students combining university life with practical work-based technology projects. The four-year course has been developed by PwC and the University of Leeds, and successful candidates will work with PwC as they study on their degree programme.
Developing the next generation of technology talent
The initiative is one of the first and largest examples of the new Level 6 Degree Apprenticeships in action. Students will be PwC employees from day one and will be paid a salary throughout their course. At the end of the programme, those meeting the performance criteria of both the university and PwC, will earn a degree in Computer Science and will continue their career at PwC.
Professor Peter Jimack, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Leeds, said:
“We are passionate about providing our students with the best opportunities and experiences possible to prepare them for the world of employment. We are delighted to welcome our first cohort onto the four-year course with PwC and we look forward to seeing our students develop the skill, expertise and experience that are in such great demand from industry.
“The University welcomes the brightest students from all backgrounds and believes in the importance of a research-led education to give them the critical and practical skills that they will need after graduation: supporting them and their future employers in dealing with important societal challenges and to help them to continue to be successful.
PwC and the University will help to address the UK’s technology skills gap and to improve diversity in key roles in our most important businesses. We are proud to be instrumental in educating the industry’s future talent.
“By providing this distinctive combination of education, training and experience PwC and the University will help to address the UK’s technology skills gap and to improve diversity in key roles in our most important businesses. We are proud to be instrumental in educating the industry’s future talent.”
Innovating through partnerships
On their tour of the School of Computing, PwC met Dr Hamish Carr, who delivered a talk on his research on scientific visualisation, as well as research in the School including Professor Roy Ruddle’s work on information visualisation. It also included a presentation of post-doctoral and PhD research by students about understanding and displaying information from large complex datasets.
PwC visitors also met Baxter the robot, and demonstrations by researchers in the robot manipulation lab included Dr Luis Figueredo’s work on intelligent robotics. This included how the robot can reason about human and its own capabilities to safely assist them, the robot’s ability to manipulate and grasp data in complex scenarios, and how algorithms can adapt the robot’s behaviour for speed and precision.
The School’s distributed systems demonstration, part of the EPSRC Programme for Simulation Innovation, and carried out in partnership with Jaguar Land Rover, was showcased to PwC by Professor Jie Xu. This showed how Cloud computing can be used to reduce barriers, such as cost, in the engineering and simulation sector.
PwC took part in a discussion with Leeds researchers around challenges of the liability of autonomous vehicles, and how Leeds’ partnership with the Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Hub is innovating growth. The partnership, led by Professor David McKee, aims to bring great innovations in the space of simulation to market.
From left to right: PhD researcher Wissam Bejjani showing PwC visitors Ian Morrison and Jon Andrews Baxter the robot with Dr Luis Figueredo
Bridging the UK's technology skills gap
PwC and the University’s technology degree apprenticeship has been designed to help address the UK’s technology skills gap and improve the industry’s diversity. Getting more women interested in technology careers is a key focus, as is raising awareness of the programme among students in from a wide variety of backgrounds.
Tech degree student, Umayah Tahsin, 18 from Bradford, said:
“Many people get a degree and struggle to find a job because they lack experience in a professional working environment, this is why I am so fortunate to be part of this program where I will have an easier transition into work life with support from staff at PwC. It also provides an opportunity to build relationships with clients and learn about the businesses that PwC provide services to.
I am so fortunate to be part of this program where I will have an easier transition into work life with support from staff at PwC. I hope to... ultimately have a successful career with PwC not only in the UK but throughout the world.
I hope that during this program, I learn more about the different areas that I can specialise in, how to work in a professional environment and ultimately have a successful career with PwC not only in the UK but throughout the world.”
Sam Parker, 18 from Bury, also on the programme added:
“I felt this degree offered me the best base for a career in technology whilst at the same time the chance to get a head start with unparalleled work placements and support from a leading business who offers unrivalled opportunities across industries and the world’
‘The financial support and job offer was a huge incentive for me to do well, as it meant I could graduate with no debt and already had a foot in the door with one of the biggest organisations in the world with over a year of experience already under my belt.”
Find out more about the PwC-University of Leeds technology degree apprenticeship.
For more information on PwC’s student careers opportunities please visit the PwC website.