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John Lewis is now launching its own digital skills apprenticeship for IT students

High street giant John Lewis has announced that it is to offer eight students a four-year IT degree apprenticeship

The scheme has been launched in collaboration with The Tech Partnership and its first intake will be selected from students who have successfully completed their A-levels and are enrolled on Queen Mary University of London’s Digital & Technology Solutions course. In addition to working towards their BSc qualifications, the new apprentices will spend three days a week in John Lewis’s IT department, where they will receive specialist technology training across a broad range of subjects.

The new recruits will be provided with on-the-job training at the retailer’s head office on London’s Victoria Street and working within several different areas of the IT department. John Lewis’s digital apprentices will benefit from hands-on experience of coding, infrastructure development and issue resolution, building a diverse skillset before they decide which technical specialisms they wish to pursue.

In addition to having their tuition fees paid in full, the apprentices will begin on a salary of £16,000 per annum with the possibility of a performance-linked increase after the first year. Upon successful completion of the course, they will also be offered a chance to embark on a career within John Lewis’s IT department.

John Lewis’s IT director, Paul Coby, explained that the apprenticeship scheme is a fantastic chance for young people who are passionate about retail and IT to learn and earn at the same time. Describing the long-term aims of the apprenticeship programme, Mr Coby added that this was an ideal way for John Lewis to find and develop the retailer’s future digital and IT partners.

With technology and digital skills helping to drive growth in the retail sector, John Lewis’s degree apprenticeships are part of the growing trend for private sector organisations to invest in technology training and education. The government has been pushing for greater collaboration between business and academia in recent years, highlighting the growing importance of coding and other digital skills in the modern world.

Speaking at a Tech London Advocates event in 2014, the minister for culture, media and sport, Ed Vaizey, stressed the importance of digital apprenticeships. He said that employers had to play a bigger role in education and expressed the belief that the future lay in degrees that fundamentally morph the world of education with the world of work.

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