A Degree Apprenticeship Graduate saving his company £400,000 a year

It’s common to think that once you have a full-time job, your education stops. The Degree Apprenticeship in Applied Software Engineering at Swansea University proves that learning is a continuous process that you can pursue at any stage of life. 

The Degree Apprenticeship in Applied Software Engineering was created by Technocamps, the school and community outreach unit of the Department of Computer Science. It is an innovative programme of study that combines work and higher education and delivered as an offering of the Institute of Coding in Wales.

For Paul Finch, Systems Manager at EPS Construction Ltd, the apprenticeship programme was a chance to not only help improve his company’s IT systems but develop his own digital skills. 

Finding the right solution

With his background in IT, Paul knew that bespoke digital solutions could be developed to improve EPS' financial systems. Yet without technical resources, there was little he could do to realise this vision for the business.

In 2016, Paul discovered the Higher Apprenticeship FdSc programme in Computer Science offered by Technocamps at Swansea University and made his manager aware that it could provide an opportunity to bring new digital skills to the company.

A tailor-made apprenticeship for all

Whilst EPS doesn’t have a standalone software engineering department, they were able to enrol Paul onto this Higher Apprenticeship programme; and after successfully completing the programme, he was able to articulate into the final year of the BSc Degree Apprenticeship Programme in Applied Software Engineering.

Throughout the 3-year programme, Paul interacted with fellow students from a wide variety of companies – from large organisations like the DVLA and Admiral Insurance down to micro-companies – all developing the same digital skillset. According to Paul, “The apprenticeship programme has given me a wide range of skills which are applicable on a daily basis. For each module, we carried out a work-based mini-project which transfers the knowledge and skills acquired from that specific module directly into our company. Having such a programme which does this for the broadest variety of companies is a remarkable achievement.”

So Paul was developing skills that he could bring to bear on problems in his company throughout the whole programme. However, it was in his final year that he developed his most successful piece of software.

Creating a dramatic impact 

As his final-year project, Paul designed a bespoke piece of software which now forms part of the EPS financial system. The software works by identifying and recovering contract variances, which occur for a number of reasons, but mean that a company’s contract budget can change dramatically. 

Already in partial deployment, the software has saved EPS £70,000, and Company Director Jonathan Fleming estimates that once fully deployed, it will save them £400,000 per year. 

Through apprenticeships like Paul’s, we’re helping learners of all ages discover that higher education doesn’t end when you get a job, and showing employers that collaborations with educators can give them employees with the right digital skills for the job.

To learn more about the degree apprenticeships, visit https://www.swansea.ac.uk/undergraduate/courses/science/computer-science/bsc-applied-software-engineering/