Northern Powerhouse partner Sheffield Hallam University’s brand new National Centre of Excellence for Degree Apprenticeships has been officially opened by Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry MP.

The launch, hosted by Sheffield Hallam University Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Chris Husbands, took place on City Campus on 8th November and was attended by Sheffield City Region entrepreneurs, degree apprentices, key stakeholders, partners and staff. The University received a grant towards the project from the Sheffield City Region (SCR) Combined Authority to provide bespoke teaching space and IT equipment for hundreds of learners on degree apprenticeships.

Northern Powerhouse Minister, Jake Berry MP, said: “It’s been a great privilege to be able to open Sheffield Hallam University’s National Centre of Excellence for Degree Apprenticeships. With nearly two and a half thousand apprentices scheduled to be enrolled by 2020, this centre demonstrates the increasing importance of degree apprenticeships, and apprenticeships more widely, in driving vocational skills across the Northern Powerhouse and creating a highly skilled workforce ready to compete in a globally competitive economy.”

Dan Jarvis, Mayor of the Sheffield City Region, said: “I’m delighted that the first National Centre of Excellence for Degree Apprenticeships is opening in the Sheffield City Region, providing opportunities for around 11,000 learners over the next 10 years. Enterprise and ambition will be nurtured with outstanding new facilities, expert knowledge and the collaborative university-business relationships that our city region is becoming renowned for. It’s also important to note that half a million pounds in Local Growth Fund money, from the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, made this project possible. This demonstrates the real impact that devolved funding can have; enabling regional decision-makers to put money into projects they know will best benefit their communities and drive economic growth.”

Degree apprenticeships have been developed in subject areas identified as important to the future success of the economy including management, healthcare, construction, engineering and computing. Sheffield Hallam currently has 835 apprentices enrolled on courses including engineering, business, healthcare science, food technology, IT and software engineering. By 2020 the University is expecting to have 2,350 apprentices. Those attending the launch saw cyber hacking and robotics demonstrations put on by students and staff, met current apprentices and were given a tour of the facilities.

Professor Sir Chris Husbands, Vice-Chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University, said: “The University has an ambition to become the world’s leading applied university with a focus on innovative and applied education. We are committed to the region and have placed regional economic growth and social mobility at the heart of our strategy. As part of this commitment we have invested heavily in the development of one of the broadest degree apprenticeship portfolios in the UK, which has already seen significant growth.
“We have also embarked on an innovative project to identify and support potential apprentices from the most disadvantaged backgrounds in the region and match them with our vibrant SME businesses. I was delighted to welcome Jake Berry MP, Northern Powerhouse Minister, to officially open our National Centre of Excellence for Degree Apprenticeships.”

The Centre of Excellence provides space for teaching for apprentices on a variety of courses, specialist IT facilities and informal areas to support group work and networking. It will also be used to offer a range of professional development courses to employers. The centre is based in Aspect Court on Pond Hill and also at locations across the city campus. Aspect Court will form part of the Knowledge Gateway – a partnership project to transform the corridor running along the Lower Sheaf to the Porter Valley, including Sheffield Midland station.
The building is also home to the new Hallam i-Lab – a brand new business incubator and co-working space for students and graduates. The Hallam i-Lab will serve as an entrepreneurial base for students, graduates and academics offering them a dynamic and collaborative environment where innovation and creativity can flourish. It will provide a platform from which an increasing number of sustainable graduate business ventures will develop and go on to contribute significantly to the long term economic growth and wellbeing of the local and regional business community.

(Pictured from left are: Jake Berry MP, Northern Powerhouse Minister; degree apprentice Megan Williamson; Vice Chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University, Professor Sir Chris Husbands; Conor Moss, Group Director – Business Engagement, Skills and Employability at SHU; Professor Kevin Kerrigan, Pro Vice Chancellor for Enterprise and Dean Sheffield Business School.)