Inspiring a workforce to improve skills

Engineering is a problem-solving profession, often requiring a solution focused approach to manage contemporary human and technological issues. Technology is moving at a rapid pace and having sufficient skilled engineers is key to providing future technologies, innovations, goods and services.

Motivating and inspiring a workforce to improve skills and knowledge helps to drive sustainable engineering excellence. The University of Sunderland collaborate with industry to develop apprenticeships that do just that!  The skills and knowledge developed through their higher and degree apprenticeships equip employees with the skills of tomorrow.

Their BEng Engineering Practice degree apprenticeship incorporates mathematics and statistics, materials and manufacturing principles.  Electrical and electronic apprentices specialise in industrial automation, electrical and electronic systems.  Manufacturing apprentices build knowledge on topics such as lean principles, manufacturing process design, quality and reliability engineering.

Employee James Morton an E&I Craftsman at Sterling Pharma Solutions ( pictured above ) shares his experience about the BEng Engineering Practice apprenticeship programme –

“The apprenticeship programme provides a model for increasing fundamental knowledge through work-based learning. It has helped me achieve my academic goals and targets whilst continuing working and being supported by my company. The combination of higher education and work is the ideal combination. I can relate my studies to real world situations, giving me a far greater understanding. Creating and building a work-based portfolio also allows me to track my progress.”

James also outlines some of the projects he worked on at Sterling, enabling him to apply his University learning within his professional role.

“I have undertaken a range of different projects at Sterling Pharma Solutions as part of my apprenticeship. I designed, installed, and commissioned a PID (proportional–integral–derivative) controlled water temperature system for our cooling towers, resulting in better operational functionality whilst majorly reducing energy consumption.

I have also been involved with the upgrade of the site fire and hazard system; creating Standard Operating Procedures, AS-built drawings, along with upgrading and modifying the current fire system to become an addressable network, with greater capacity, reliability, and performance.

Most recently I upgraded a vessel and jacket services skid from an independent local controller, re-designed and commissioned onto our local genesis network giving better control and reducing the requirement of manual operations of the equipment.”

The BEng Engineering Practice degree apprenticeship is a route that many employers are choosing to develop their workforce. It provides opportunities for apprentices to contribute to business objectives whilst supporting the progression of employees in engineering.

Rebecca Middleton, Learning & Development Business Partner at Sterling Pharma Solutions highlights how higher and degree apprenticeships at the University can benefit Sterling’s operations.

“Apprenticeships continue to bring many benefits to Sterling; our apprenticeships grow as the business grows, adding value to our teams, whilst developing themselves in both professional and personal capacities.  Investing in the future leaders of our business is key for our on-going success.   

 “The electrical engineering course that our employees attend at Sunderland University provides excellent support, teaching and materials to equip students with fundamental scientific and mathematical principles that they will go on to use for many years to come. Specialised modules enable our employees to build the knowledge, skills and behaviours in electrical engineering.”

 It’s never been a better time to develop your engineering workforce.  Invest in the future with a degree apprenticeship!

Engineering companies can benefit from the government funding available. For levy-paying employers it’s an opportunity to attract talent to your business, train your staff and enjoy the ultimate return on investment from your levy payments. For smaller businesses, the Government will fund up to 95% of apprenticeship tuition fees. All employers can also claim an incentive payment of £3,000 for employing a new apprentice of any age before 30 September 2021.

The BEng (Hons) Engineering Practice degree apprenticeship programme is due to start 15th October 2021. To find out more about this apprenticeship join our FREE information event on 6th September.  You can meet the academic Programme Lead and there will be an opportunity to discuss the programme in detail and ask any questions that you may have.

Alternatively, visit the Engineering Practice apprenticeship website or contact our team on 0191 515 3361 at

Watch this space as the University is working with engineering organisations to roll out a Post Graduate Engineering Masters degree apprenticeship in 2022!



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