Centre for Scholarship and Innovation
I am the Qualification Lead for the Applied Software Engineering Degree Apprenticeship in Wales (R40)1 and the Staff Tutor managing the associated team of Practice Tutors.
Degree Apprenticeship (DA) cohorts in the School of Computing and Communications start in October and February each academic year.
During the first year, those starting in February study TXY1222 alone whereas those starting in October study TXY122 and TMXY1303 concurrently. Anecdotal evidence gathered by the Apprenticeship Programme Delivery Manager (APDM) for Wales indicated that apprentices starting in February feel that this lacks pace and that they are not sufficiently challenged.
Since R40 started in February 2019, 83 apprentices have begun the programme. Of these, only 45 (approx. 54%) remain on programme (cf. 72% for apprentices on the Digital and Technology Solutions Professional Degree Apprenticeship in England (R24)4).
Project activities (PA)
To address this, three activities are proposed to potentially improve retention and satisfaction on R40:
PA1. Augment the solitary module (TXY122) for those starting in February with OpenLearn courses to help build their academic skills and prepare them through more technically focussed courses for later modules.
PA2. For apprentices already on-programme and approaching their 2nd, 3rd or 4th year, augment study with OpenLearn courses that will help build their academic skills and prepare them through more technically focussed courses for later modules.
PA3. For future apprentices on both starts (i.e. from 23J/24B), ask potential apprentices, during the recruitment process, whether they’d like to complete the OpenLearn course Am I ready to be a distance learner?5 and a technically-focussed OpenLearn course with a view to improving retention. This reflects plans on R24 to introduce a 3-month induction period; such an induction period to be explored for R40.
These initiatives would be run on a trial basis and apprentices would be required to sign-up for the pilot (10-15 participants required) to be allocated appropriate support and consent to participate in the gathering of feedback. Participation in the pilot would be optional but open to all.
Apprentice and employer surveys run by Business Development Unit (BDU) and retention results would be used to measure the impact of this project.
Further surveys or alternative data gathering methods would be designed within this project to focus on aspects not covered by these standard surveys. The methodology applied here will need to be refined to maximise the amount of information obtained from the apprentices who participate in the project.
1R40 Applied Software Engineering Degree Apprenticeship in Wales (https://www.open.ac.uk/business/apprenticeships/programmes-wales/applied-software-engineering-degree-apprenticeship)
2TXY122 Career development and employability (https://learn2.open.ac.uk/course/view.php?id=213940) Intranet
3TMXY130 Introduction to computing technologies (https://learn2.open.ac.uk/course/view.php?id=212947) Intranet
4R24 Digital and Technology Solutions Professional Degree Apprenticeship in England (https://www.open.ac.uk/business/apprenticeships/programmes-england/digital-and-technology-solutions-degree)
5OpenLearn: Am I ready to be a distance learner? (https://www.open.edu/openlearn/education-development/am-i-ready-be-distance-learner/content-section-0?active-tab=description-tab)