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Minister visits Staffordshire University to speak with degree apprentices

Staffordshire University received a visit from the Minister for Skills, Apprenticeships and Higher Education last week.

Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP was greeted by Vice-Chancellor Professor Martin Jones and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Kevin Hetherington before being given a tour of the University’s Innovation Enterprise Zone (IEZ), which is contributing to business growth and productivity in the region.

The Minister, accompanied by Stoke-on Trent MPs Jo Gideon and Jack Brereton, met with Automotive and Transport Design graduate James Deane who is now working for Sino Engineering in the University’s business incubation space. James is working on the design of an electric scooter for the South East Asia market.

He then met with students studying for the Peter Coates MSc in Entrepreneurship in their dedicated space in the Mellor building, before holding a round table discussion with the University’s Senior Leaders and Degree Apprentices.

This included Staffordshire Nurse Apprentice Annette Walklate who became a registered nurse in critical care at Royal Stoke University Hospital after completing a degree apprenticeship at the age of 58.

Last month the government confirmed an additional £40m investment in a bid to increase the uptake of degree apprenticeships and the Minister was keen to hear what motivated Staffordshire’s Degree Apprentices to choose the “earn while your learn” pathway and how the government could encourage more people to follow in their footsteps.

Addressing the Degree Apprentices, the Minister said: “I want to have a country where there are millions of you.”

Commenting on the visit, Professor Jones said: “It was an honour and a privilege to have the Minister visit our campus. As one of the largest Degree Apprenticeship providers in the country we have recently been allocated £414k to grow our provision even further and we are delighted that the Minister wanted to hear first-hand from our Degree Apprentices about their experiences.

“I think it’s fair to say that he was also wowed by our students on the Entrepreneurship course and by facilities in our IEZ, which provides businesses with access to leading edge facilities and the expertise of staff and students.”

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