Aberdeen City Council is leading the way in developing staff through Graduate Apprenticeships – a way to study for an undergraduate degree whilst working for the local authority.
Nine employees started courses at Robert Gordon University (RGU) this academic year, the highest number enrolled by any single employer.
The programme is a way to both attract new talent to the organisation and retain skilled employees by providing opportunities for career progression.
Isla Newcombe, the Council’s Chief Officer for Organisational Development, said: “Our Graduate Apprentices are empowered to apply what they are learning at University to their work and add value to the workplace by bringing new and fresh ideas to the Council.
“They are supported in their studies by attending on campus days and are assigned a workplace mentor, this demonstrates our ongoing commitment to nurturing our internal talent.”
Mentoring is itself an opportunity to learn skills and enjoy support from the Council and RGU.
The collaboration with RGU was launched in 2018 when three employees embarked on a BA (Hons) IT Business for Management and one on a BA (Hons) Business Management.
This year’s employees have embarked on degree courses in fields critical to the operation of the Council ranging from the Built Environment to Data Science to Accountancy.
In addition, two employees have started a BEng (Hons) Civil Engineering at the University of Dundee.
RGU Principal, Professor John Harper, said: “There is now, more than ever, a significant emphasis on repositioning the workplace as a learning environment and Graduate Apprenticeships allow the university to extend access to degree-level studying, while minimising time out of the workplace.
“The collaboration with Aberdeen City Council has seen it take on a number of apprentices in a range of programmes. We are delighted that the Council recognises the importance of work-based learning and look forward to working further on the delivery of its graduate apprenticeships.”
Office Manager Lorna Stephen, who has been with the Council for 15 years, is in her second year of BA (Hons) Business Management.
She said: “By having a better understanding of the Council and the environment we’re working in, I’m much more able to fully support my team. I also feel I have many more transferrable skills.
“Because there is such a variety of people undertaking the course, I’m gaining a good understanding of other industries too. It’s hard work trying to fit it all in but I’m looking forward to finally getting a degree.”
Matthew Craig, an Approved Chargehand Electrician who joined the Council 13 years ago, started studying a BSc (Hons) Construction: Built Environment this year.
He said: “I wanted to take part in the programme because after getting the opportunity to complete an HNC I decided it would be an advantage to carry on my studies to gain a degree qualification.
“I found the HNC could be applied to my role within the council and wanted to expand my learning further to gain additional knowledge of all trades and the construction industry in general."