Developing a degree apprenticeship for UX

Mar 20 2019

Greater Manchester needs a work and skills system which ensures that young people leave education ready to succeed in the labour market… and which is flexible, resilient and adaptable enough to meet employers’ needs for improved productivity and growth.

Greater Manchester Work and Skills Strategy & Priorities 2016 to 2019

As a business working in the ever-evolving digital and creative sector, we’ve always relied on access to the best digital and design talent. However, with an expanding number of new digital businesses and teams in the city, and more organisations undertaking some kind of digital transformation, we’re seeing the demand for digital skills fast outstripping the supply (like so many cities around the world).

The Greater Manchester Work and Skills Strategy recognises this challenge and, as part of Manchester’s solution to tackle this to support its economic growth ambitions, calls upon employers to play a more active role in co-producing skills at higher levels. The strategy, which can be read in full here, goes on to propose that “better connection between demand and supply sides of the skills system will be essential, with dynamic long-term relationships between employers and GM’s FE and HE institutions and training providers.”

This is one of the many reasons why, for the last couple of years, magneticNorth has been chairing the Trailblazer Group for the development of a User Experience (UX) Degree Apprenticeship.

Credit: Jose Alejandro Cuffia
Credit: Jose Alejandro Cuffia

What are degree apprenticeships?

Degree apprenticeships are similar to higher apprenticeships, which combine workplace learning with academic study, but differ in that they also provide an opportunity to gain a full bachelor’s degree (e.g. BA or BSc). In this respect degree apprenticeships offer apprentices the best of both worlds, combining professional work experience (on a working salary) with a formal degree qualification. And as an employer, what do we get? Well, a diversified talent pool for one thing, and as has been widely reported, the more diverse a business’s workforce, the better that business is expected to perform financially. No brainer, right?

The User Experience (UX) Degree Apprenticeship

The UX Degree Apprenticeship Trailblazer Group consists of multiple employers from across the country who represent various sectors, and a number of leading universities and other training providers, who collectively have been responsible for the development of the UX Degree Apprenticeship. In practice this has involved the development of two key outputs:

The first is what is known as the apprenticeship ‘Standard’, which is essentially a 2-3 page document which captures the occupational profile, workplace duties and necessary knowledge, skills and behaviours that employers expect from individuals working in UX roles.

The second is the ‘End Point Assessment Plan’, which details how apprentices are to be assessed at the end of their apprenticeship to demonstrate that they have attained all of the knowledge, skills and behaviours to qualify them as ready for a career in the field of UX.

Once approved by the Institute for Apprenticeships (part of the Department for Education), the apprenticeship Standard and End Point Assessment Plan would be used by training providers/universities across the country (and their partner apprentice employers) as the basis for the design of their individual UX Degree Apprenticeship programmes.

Credit: Bonneval Sebastien

Where are we up to?

It’ll probably come as no surprise that the development of a brand new degree apprenticeship Standard and End Point Assessment Plan is not a quick process. Afterall, the purpose of Trailblazer Groups for the development of new apprenticeships is to ensure that they are employer-led so that they are specifically designed to meet the needs of employers. Furthermore, as you might expect, the Institute for Apprenticeships has a fairly rigorous approval process. Both of these things mean that the process takes some time.

However the great news is that at the end of last year, the Standard for the UX Degree Apprenticeship was approved by the Institute for Apprenticeships. The Standard is available to view online here. Meanwhile the Trailblazer Group is continuing to work on the End Point Assessment Plan which is anticipated to be submitted for approval over the coming months.

We’ll keep you posted on further updates as and when they happen, but for now it’s back to work on the End Point Assessment Plan.

The field of UX has exploded over recent years, yet most of the skills conversation in tech is still focussed on coding skills. Those skills are of course massively important, but at mN we believe that those designing the products and services of our digital world are as integral as those building them. Furthermore, we believe that Manchester has an opportunity to become a real centre of excellence for UX, which is why we’ve been delighted to contribute to the development of the UX Degree Apprenticeship.

Ian Wareing, Account Director, magneticNorth

Ian, Account Director

Developing digital skills

Want to find out more about the UX Degree Apprenticeship?