An innovative training solution from Siemens and Salford University has achieved a major milestone by upskilling its 100th engineer. The one year ‘top up’ degree programme gives young and experienced engineers a BEng Hons (Bachelor of Engineering) in Control and Automation.
Launched in 2017, it was co-designed and co-delivered by Siemens Digital Industries and the University of Salford and uses a block delivery model combining academic modules in automation, robotics, and embedded systems, Siemens S7 Certified PLC programmer training and accreditation, and a workplace project to solve a real-world problem.
It has now upgraded the existing qualifications of 100 personnel from within Siemens and 38 global companies and SMEs from various industry sectors in the UK, including Jaguar Land Rover Ltd, Wessex Water Services, Nutricia, Muller Dairies, Costain, Unilever, GSK and Amazon UK.
Among them is 26-year-old Dom Phillpot, a recently qualified Amazon Degree Apprentice from the 2018 cohort who is now an Automation Engineer at their fulfilment centre in Rugby.
Dom said: “I had tried out University, but it wasn’t for me. However, when the opportunity presented to be an apprentice and earn a degree in engineering my prayers were answered.
“Whilst I enjoyed both working and learning I feel I have surpassed what I set out to achieve. I achieved the highest possible mark in the degree and within that became a S7 certified programmer.
“In March 2022 of my final year, I made the big step to move to a site where the automation engineer was leaving. This was a site where there was only one engineer, and I was moving from a site where there were three. I knew this was going to be a massive step and whilst carrying out my studies alongside was going to be a challenge.”
“Having now been at this site for around nine months and graduated, I have been given a full-time role with the team and I couldn’t be happier with my achievements. I am very grateful for the opportunity to be in the position I am in now.”
Vince Goodall not only completed the top up degree while juggling work and family life but graduated with a First Class Honours. He now works as a field-service engineer with Siemens’ Customer Service Motion Control in Manchester.
“Balancing family life, work and studying at the same time was difficult at times," he said. "I was also in the final year of my apprenticeship whilst completing the top up degree, so this was a very demanding year at work completing a lot of additional training and proving my competency in my future role."
The top-up degree programme has evolved since its launch in 2017. When it was launched apprentices could take up the top-up degree in their final year but now there is a mix of degree apprentices and those taking the degree as a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) exercise in academic upgrade.
Jason Phin, Training Solutions Business Manager at Siemens Digital Industries, said: “I am delighted we have reached such a major milestone. Our ambition was to create a degree programme that taught a range of practical skills and technical understanding fit for future manufacturing, not just for our workforce, but the wider industry.
“It’s fantastic that six years on there are 104 Industry 4.0-ready engineers embedding their new skills in workplaces across the UK.”
Professor Haifa Takruri, MBE School of Science, Engineering & Environment, University of Salford, said: “This is a great partnership and very rewarding for all companies who invest in their employees. The students who enrol on the BEng (Hons) Control and Automation work very hard, they value the university experience, the knowledge and skills they gain. They are committed to their studies and achieve excellent results. I am very proud of their achievements.”