DVLA and Swansea University partnership in training

On Wednesday 23 September 2015, 20 employees of the Driver and Vehicle Registration Agency (DVLA) started their two-year Foundation Degree Programme in Computer Science (FdSc), fully funded by a £300,000 grant from the DVLA.

FD DVLA launch

(Pictured: Richard Davies, Nigel Willis, Faron Moller, Iain Patterson, Arnold Beckmann) 

This milestone was marked with an evening reception on campus, attended by Senior Managers from the DVLA and the University as well as the students and their work-place mentors/line managers. Words of welcome and encouragement, towards both the students and to the University's partnership with the DVLA, were delivered by the Programme Director Professor Faron Moller, Vice Chancellor Professor Richard Davies, Head of Department Professor Arnold Beckmann, and Iain Patterson, Chief Technology Officer at DVLA.

The Foundation Degree in Computer Science was created three years ago, with the support of an ESF grant, and this year the University saw the programme's first 35 graduates awarded their FdSc degrees. This degree is fully accredited for the industry-recognised Higher Apprenticeship Framework Qualification; furthermore, graduates can apply for direct entry into the final year of the Honours BSc Software Engineering programme which has CEng accreditation. As it is specifically targeted at employees of private companies, the Foundation Degree in Computer Science is in perfect alignment with the University's strategic planning with, e.g., the business-facing Computational Foundry and HPC Wales.

Pictured: Richard Davies, Nigel Willis, Faron Moller, Iain Patterson, Arnold Beckmann

The DVLA is currently embarking on a grand challenge of in-sourcing its digital operation, which has historically been outsourced to major IT companies. This effort is in line with the wider Government Digital Services (GDS) project. It is in the face of this challenge that the DVLA enrolled 20 of its employees onto the Computer Science Foundation Degree at Swansea. According to Nigel Willis, ITD Head of Portfolio Control & Capability at the DVLA, "This action is taken to address our short-term need to up-skill staff in computing technology and play a major part in us taking control of our IT services. This will directly contribute towards the economic development of our operation through formalising our ‘digital’ skills capability that will expand our current work; attract additional Government service development and delivery activities to the organisation; and consequently support the growth of our local supplier base working in the digital arena."

A total of 116 employees of the DVLA applied to take advantage of this opportunity, from which only 20 were selected to join the first of potentially many cohorts of DVLA employees studying for the FdSc at Swansea University. This represents a positive endorsement by the DVLA of the sort of Academic Partnership opportunities on offer by Swansea University.