A new degree apprenticeship targeting the next generation of materials scientists and engineers has been agreed.
Students could be starting the Materials Science Technologist programme as soon as September 2019 following the approval of the occupational standard by the Institute for Apprenticeships (IFA).
The result is a major success for members of the apprenticeship's employer group, who have worked together with programme co-ordinator the Applied Materials Research, Innovation and Commercialisation Company (AMRICC), to bring the scheme together.
More than fifty companies from across the UK - employing around 40,000 staff nationwide and 150,000 globally - joined the group last year to take the programme forward.
The degree apprenticeship is being supported by Staffordshire University, the University of Birmingham, Queen Mary University of London, Sheffield Hallam University, Derby University, Manchester Metropolitan University, and Blackpool and The Fylde College, as well as IOM3.
Dr Chris Stevens of NGF Europe Limited is chair of the employer group. He said: "It has been a team effort from the group to pull together the diverse areas of materials technology and present a clear case for the apprenticeship.
"The IFA Engineering and Manufacturing Route Panel, and the Board, set very stringent goals for agreement.
"The contributions and input from across the group enabled the depth of industrial need and breadth of support for the application to be strongly presented and agreement gained.
“The acceptance of this standard reflects both the effective voice of the group, and the dedicated effort of the AMRICC co-ordinators, which is much appreciated.
“Material science and engineering have a hugely significant role to play in the economy of the future.
"Ultimately, this apprenticeship will provide students with the skills, knowledge and competency to deliver tangible benefits to individual companies and play a part in supporting the UK economy overall with significant advances in productivity, quality, and environmental protection.
"We can look forward to these apprentices increasing the competitiveness and technical competence of the country in the international markets."
Now the occupational standard has been set, the next step is the development of the end point assessment for the apprenticeship and the courses for students.
A wide range of materials, including metals, ceramics and advanced ceramics, glass, polymers, rubbers and composites, as well as new and novel materials, will be covered, offering students a gateway to a wide variety of opportunities.
James Smith from Caterpillar, who is vice chair of the employer group, said: “This apprenticeship will set students up to go straight into a career in analysis, manufacturing, product development, or the development of new materials themselves.
"The nature of the content is wide-ranging to give students the opportunity to gain a broad view of the technology and make informed decisions about their future career’s direction.
"We are excited to see the programme take shape. It’s good news for prospective apprentices, academics and businesses in a wide range of sectors and industries across the UK."
AMRICC has created an online area where companies can keep up to speed with the degree apprenticeship here.