PwC, one of the global 'big four' professional services firms, has created a technology degree apprenticeship programme that, it claims, will give young people from a broader range of backgrounds the opportunity to get into a career in computing.
The company hopes that by providing a route in to the industry for more people, it can help to plug a growing IT skills gap in the UK.
PwC has put together a four-year course in partnership with the University of Birmingham and the University of Leeds. It will begin in September 2018, and will see 80 students combining university studies with practical work-based technology projects at IT, in the same city as they're studying.
The students will be considered PwC employees from the first day and receive a salary throughout. At the end of the programme, they will come away with a BSc degree in Computer Science and a job at PwC - if they meet performance criteria.
The degree will include teaching on topics such as: intelligent systems, cyber security, theoretical computer science and human-centred computing. The practical work will eventually lead to succesful students helping PwC's clients in understanding how different technologies can be beneficial for their organisations.
Those wanting to apply for the apprenticeship will need a strong educational background with at least three A-levels, including an 'A' in mathematics and at least a 'C' in GCSE English. Programming experience is not required.
Kevin Ellis, chairman and senior partner at PwC, said that it was necessary to create a vibrant tech sector for the UK to prosper post-Brexit.
"The demand for technology advice is rapidly increasing, while the pool of available tech talent is shrinking and could be impacted further by Brexit," he said.
"To meet these challenges we need to be even more innovative in the way we develop skills and recruit people. Our new technology degree apprenticeship is an exciting new way for us to start to grow the future of the UK's technology industry at a much earlier stage and to open up these careers to a wider range of students from across the country."
PwC research has found that only 27 per cent of female A-level and university students would consider a career in technology, compared to 62 per cent of males - and it will try to address this by targeting females to take up the apprenticeship.
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