News & Blog

Read the latest business news, blogs and thought leadership articles from our members, as well as updates on the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce's work in the city.

News & Blog

Edinburgh Napier University’s Business School Graduate Apprenticeships

Posted: 9th July 2020

By Dr Lyn Batchelor, Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship at Edinburgh Napier University’s Business School

Graduate Apprenticeships are an education success story. Designed to allow people to gain a degree-level qualification in the same time as any other student without leaving full-time work, they are fully funded by Skills Development Scotland. Students apply their learning every day in the workplace and bring their workplace examples to the classroom.

At Edinburgh Napier University, Graduate Apprentices are studying Business Management, Civil Engineering, Construction & the Built Environment, Cybersecurity, Data Science, Engineering Design and Manufacture, IT Management for Business, Software Development, either on a day release basis or on block release programmes.

As we progress applications with employers wanting to upskill existing employees through completing a BA (Hons) Business Management (Graduate Apprenticeship) degree programme in the Business School, as well as from those who will start in September, it is an appropriate time to reflect on the benefits of applied education to businesses and individuals. The Advisory Group on Economic Recovery’s (Higgins) report released in June identifies both education and employability as central to Scotland’s economic recovery. Graduate Apprenticeships are an illustration of how education and employability can be directly applied to business outcomes.

It is helpful to understand what a Graduate Apprentice “looks” like in the Business School at Edinburgh Napier. Now recruiting for our third cohort, we can confidently say that a Graduate Apprentice looks like the person in the mirror. Ages range from school leaver to 50+, years of employment range from new starters to twenty-year veterans of organisations, while industry sectors are diverse. Apprentices bring experiences from logistics, banking, the NHS, information technology, energy and government to bring theory to life in their studies. Employers say there is a

“fantastic buzz when (Graduate Apprentice) returns on Mondays. (The Graduate Apprentice) is early in (their) career, and shadows executive roles bringing us a new language each week” … Graduate Apprentice is a new employee., and

“There is such a buzz when they return to their roles each week, all want to do well, and they are like kids with new toys with their new knowledge. We’ve set a training zone to give them space to study” … Graduate Apprentices are existing employees.

Overall, employers typically remark on the difference in the confidence of their employees as Graduate Apprentices even after a single semester of study. The design of the degree programme includes a workplace project module every summer which links the university concepts to day-to-day work.

This project work gives rise to the second common feedback theme of the change in perspective from self and team, to a business wide view of operations and their own impact on the organisation. The current projects are revealing the complexities of work in key occupations during the pandemic. Students are sitting for assessment after coming off a string of night shifts, meetings with the First Minister, managing remote international teams, and juggling home schooling, partners, pets and working on a shared surface. And thriving.

Whether you want to reskill your existing employees for the new way of working, or “grow your own graduate” who will gain four years work experience with you as they earn a degree, now is the right time to talk to us about the fully-funded Graduate Apprenticeship programmes.

Business Comment

Business Comment is the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly magazine. It provides insight on Edinburgh’s vibrant business community, with features on the city’s key sectors, interviews with leading figures and news on new business developments in the capital.
Read more here