The British Geotechnical Association (BGA) is the principal
association for geotechnical engineers in the United Kingdom.

Degree Apprenticeship in Geoscience

The BGA wishes to share this announcement from Nick Koor & Sian Davies-Vollum, the Chair & Vice Chair of University Geoscience UK

At a time when a sustainable cohort of young world-class geoscientists are required to tackle the global challenges of climate change, the energy transition, resource management, water shortages and resilience to natural hazards, there is an existential crisis in undergraduate Geoscience recruitment at Universities in the UK. There has been a 43% drop in enrolment since 2016 with a number of geoscience departments across the UK currently closed for recruitment (Brighton, Kingston, Derby and UWE) with others sure to follow. University Geoscience UK together with the Geological Society of London published a strategy in October 2020 to tackle this problem. One of the actions was to develop a Geoscience Degree Apprenticeship (GSDA). In order to attract a wide and diverse range of undergraduates into the industry we would suggest that a GSDA be wide-ranging to allow students to graduate with different specialisms such as: mining geology, geophysics, urban geology, environmental geoscience as some examples.

Some of the advantages of developing an Apprenticeship Degree are:

  • The learner does not have to pay any degree fees (saving £27k +).
  • The learner is earning a salary while on the apprenticeship if the employer is currently paying into the levy and does not use money, they lose it after 18 months.
  • Some large employers could be paying £+1M into the levy.
  • It will allow employers to recruit people from the age of 18 years old from college/training providers as an apprentice via the degree apprenticeship.
  • It allows employers to upskill existing employers via apprenticeships.
  • Is likely to retain employees due to their being structured career development.
  • It is an alternative route to getting a degree.
  • Not being limited to a graduate intake will increase the diversity in talent.

A Degree Apprenticeship for the Geoscience sector would hopefully go some way in solving the recruitment issues in Higher Education and also the skills gap experienced currently by some in the geoscience sector.

Industry would need to initiate and drive forward a Degree Apprenticeship and form a Trailblazer Group. The group would need to be a minimum of ten companies (representing the full range of activities and size of companies) to develop and submit an expression of interest to the Government for initial approval. Once this is approved then a set of Standards that the degree would need to satisfy would have to be developed and approved by the Government. So we are asking you the following simple questions:

  1. Would you in-principle hire too and support a GSDA?
  2. Will your company/organisation be willing to support someone to help develop an expression of interest for an apprenticeship program as part of a Trailblazer Group?

We hope that you are interested in this scheme and see the benefit to the Geoscience sector in developing this further.

If you are interested in learning more about this then please email Nick Koor: . The idea would be to set up an initial meeting with all interested parties to form a Trailblazer Group and elect a Chair. There will be an expert on hand to give an initial overview of DA’s and be able to field and answer questions that you may have. The key is getting the group up and running with the election of a Chair who has the time and enthusiasm to drive this forward.

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