Powerhouse minister: Sheffield leading the way on apprenticeship innovation              

From left: Jake Berry MP, northern powerhouse minister; degree apprentice Megan Williamson; vice chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University, prof 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.
From left: Jake Berry MP, northern powerhouse minister; degree apprentice Megan Williamson; vice chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University, prof 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.

Sheffield is a city at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse with a global reputation for innovation and technical expertise, which makes it a fitting home for the new National Centre of Excellence for Degree Apprenticeships, writes Jake Berry MP, Minister for the Northern Powerhouse

At the launch event, I was proud to hear Sheffield Hallam University's ambitious plans and students talk enthusiastically about the opportunities created by this route into skilled employment.

This is exactly what the Northern Powerhouse is all about: Northern cities like Sheffield ambitiously setting the standards and leading the way towards a successful shared future.

Equipping our young people with the best education and training so they have the skills both they and employers need is essential.

Degree apprenticeships complement our current education system. They offer people who might not have considered higher education a real alternative to a traditional degree course. They offer the chance to earn whilst learning at some of the UK’s top universities and to go on to secure a rewarding job. And they offer universities and businesses the opportunity to forge partnerships to create the highly skilled workforce our country needs.

That’s why this new centre is so important. State-of-the art teaching and IT facilities will help hundreds of people already on degree apprenticeships and many more over the coming years.

And it is why the Government is investing in degree apprenticeships. We have supported them through the £10 million Degree Apprenticeship Development Fund. Over 18 projects and 45 universities and colleges were supported in its first year. A further 26 projects have been funded in the second year. I am pleased that Sheffield Hallam University has received funding in both phases.

It is working. More than 10,500 people have started degree level apprenticeships so far this year – six times as many as the previous year.

Alongside this, the North’s contribution to wider apprenticeship starts has been remarkable.

Progress so far has been outstanding but even more needs to be done.

Government, city regions like Sheffield, employers, apprenticeship providers and of course our talented apprentices themselves need to work together to build a country where young people have great opportunities to study and build their career whatever their background and wherever they grow up.

The National Centre of Excellence for Degree Apprenticeships can help lead the way for Sheffield, the Northern Powerhouse and the whole country.