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Open University partnership with IBM featured in new report

IBM apprentice

A partnership between The Open University and IBM features in the new State of the Relationship report by The National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB), launched today.

IBM chose OU degree apprenticeships to develop leadership, management and digital skills within its workforce. Commissioned by Research England, the report shows the strength and diversity of collaborations across the UK, the importance of university-business collaboration in the realisation of the Industrial Strategy and updated metrics on collaboration between universities, business and government. The report also includes a foreward by Chris Skidmore MP, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation.

As an apprenticeship levy-paying employer in England, IBM offers Open University degree apprenticeship programmes to employees, giving them the opportunity to develop new skills and further their career within the company.

Elizabeth Hanway, Senior Corporate Development Manager at The Open University said: “We have been working with IBM for a number of years on digital and management programmes, so degree apprenticeships are the next step.

“My role was to help IBM look at its skills strategy – particularly at the digital arena, but also leadership and management skills development.”

Paul Milner, Senior Early Professionals Manager, IBM, explained: “We found some universities were quite rigid in how they deliver their business. That becomes problematic in the long run. We find The Open University incredibly easy to work with. One of its real strengths is flexibility.”

The OU has got a proven track record for delivering skills and knowledge to a business environment that works. The OU is into its 50th year now, and it’s constantly evolved and changed its methods. In The Open University, we see a kindred spirit in how it uses technology, adopts technology very quickly and we welcome the way they approach learning needs.

Paul Milner, Senior Early Professionals Manager, IBM

Lee Webb, Talent Acquisition Partner in IBM UK Human Resources is enjoying the Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship so far. He explained: “I just do not have credibility, or the experience at a management level, so when I was approached about an apprenticeship I thought this would be a very good opportunity.

“The delivery model is unique compared to the normal academic learning format. It’s flexible, it’s adaptable and you learn at your own pace.

“The tutors give you great guidance, so it’s a completely different concept to in-the-classroom learning.”

Security Bid Excellence Consultant, Laurie Gibbett said of the Senior Leader Master’s Degree Apprenticeship: “The apprenticeship will give me the knowledge and credibility to move forward into my next role and ensure I have a better understanding of the organisation's business functions.

“The Open University is a good fit with IBM. A lot of us are in flexible roles where we work from home, or work in different locations.”

Thomas Robinson-Williams is an IT Architect at IBM and an apprentice on the OU’s Digital and Technology Solutions Professional Degree Apprenticeship programme. He said: “I joined IBM straight from school at 18 and have worked for the company for eight years. The apprenticeship will give me crucial industry skills and knowledge to help me develop my career. My graduation will be a special moment and gaining a degree will give me a real sense of achievement.”

You can find out more about The National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB) State of the Relationship report on their website.