10 Feb 2021

Golden futures for digital degree apprentices

200 people gathered at the virtual event to hear from employers, educators, and apprentices involved with industry-accredited Tech Industry Gold programmes.  There were also insights from Gillian Keegan MP, Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills, and Jennifer Coupland, CEO of the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education.

Degree Apprentices were the stars of the show at the National Apprenticeship Week Tech Industry Gold celebration. A panel of apprentices shared stories of their very different journeys, but with a common resounding message of commitment to their employers, enthusiasm for their degrees, and the recommendation to anyone considering such an opportunity to “Go for it!”. 

Minister Keegan spoke for everyone when she said how much she had enjoyed listening to the amazing achievements of the degree apprentices, congratulating each of the winners of the 2021 Tech Industry Gold Degree Apprenticeship Awards under the three categories of Innovation, Business Contribution and Special Achievement, as follows;

  • Chris Bubloz of Brighton & Hove City Council who addressed overly restrictive filtering to remove barriers to online learning to benefit parents, pupils and teachers
  • Celine Williams of IBM who innovated a use case to block malicious traffic, gaining future lab funding and a vendor award for innovation
  • Zoe Bull of the Institute of Railway Operators who demonstrated passion and personal bravery to both set up a new IT department for the Institute, progressing an inspirational journey for a busy working mum who had never previously considered including a degree in her life journey.

The Minister also shared her appreciation of the contribution made by these industry accredited programmes to accelerating opportunities for young people. Earlier Jennifer Coupland referred to the power of digital and the importance of degree apprenticeships to the nation’s recovery. She commented on the value of the integrated digital degree apprenticeship route and how pleased she was to see starts on this route increase by a third in the last year, despite the pandemic.

Employer representatives spoke of the outstanding contributions of their degree apprentices. Ruth Jennings of Sainsbury’s reflected on their loyalty and promotion record. Kimberley Brant of AstraZeneca talked about how the programme creates a highly valuable, broad network of people invested in the apprentices’ futures. Andy Cripps of Quicksilva shared how they, as a small company, made the decision to offer a degree apprenticeship, where the Tech Industry Gold community helped them, and the success it was for their business. Jenny Taylor of IBM compared how far ahead degree apprentices are at the end of the programme to standard degree graduates and why they value accredited programmes and the independent assessment of quality these bring.

Higher Education Institutions were equally enthusiastic about the commitment of degree apprentices and the value of engaging in these programmes. Liz Gorb of Manchester Metropolitan University commented on the high proportion of females on their Tech Industry Gold programme. Stella McKnight of Winchester University commented on their popularity, pointing to growth from 40 degree apprentices to the current 300. Peter Bull of QA talked about the importance of flexibility in delivery, particularly adapting programmes through the pandemic whilst Eran Padumadasa of Queen Mary University of London reflected on the way employer relationships have developed for them over the last 5 years, and how focused they are on making sure programmes work for all parties.

Facilitators Phil Smith CBE, Nick White of Fujitsu, Brendan O’Rourke of Bain & Company and Rafik Ishani of Deloitte echoed everyone’s feelings in congratulating the degree apprentices and thanking all the employers and Higher Education Institutions who have created their opportunities.

2021 Tech Industry Gold Degree Apprenticeship Award Winners

Business Contribution



Chris Bublow of Brighton & Hove City Council and BPP University

Runners up

Matthew Harvey of Bentley Motors and Manchester Metropolitan University

Divya Hansora of Chubb and the University of West London




Celine Williams of IBM and the University of Exeter

Runners up

Sonia Rides of North East Lincolnshire Council and Leeds Beckett University

Katherine Locke of IBM and the University of Exeter

Special Achievement



Zoe Bull of the Institution of Railway Operators and Manchester Metropolitan University

Runners up

Dilani Selvanathan of the BBC and Queen Mary University of London

Zain Nazar of BT and Ravensbourne University London


Tom Lovell

Tom Lovell

Managing Director, Tech Partnership Degrees, techUK

Tom Lovell is Managing Director of Tech Partnership Degrees, which became a wholly-owned subsidiary of techUK in October 2020. 

TP Degrees brings together employers and education to co-create degree programmes to deliver outstanding outcomes for students and an essential flow of talent for employers.   The degree apprenticeship and full-time degree programmes involve 35 universities and over 170 employers and hold the Tech Industry Gold accreditation which consistently achieve sector-leading results in terms of educational attainment, employability and diversity.

Tom works with techUK members, stakeholders and colleagues to champion the development of digital skills and talent to meet the future needs of employers and their customers in an increasingly digitised economy.   Tom has worked for more than 25 years in the jobs and skills sector and was previously both UK and Global Managing Director for Reed, where his experience included creating a graduate recruitment business which developed into reed.co.uk, turnaround of the Education business and diversification of the technology recruitment business.       

[email protected]
07973 639 576

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