Uni partners with employers to offer UK’s ‘first’ chemical engineering degree apprenticeships05 February 2019

The University of Chester’s Faculty of Science and Engineering and major employers in the region have partnered together to offer what they say is the first degree apprenticeship in the UK to be based upon an IChemE accredited chemical engineering degree.

The BEng in Chemical Engineering at the University’s Thornton Science Park is currently accredited by the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) – which is working together with the University of Chester to ensure that the degree is accredited as part of the apprenticeship.

The new Science Industry Process/Plant Engineer degree apprenticeship has also been designed in consultation with major employers of chemical engineers in the North West. Unilever, the global consumer goods company, was the first employer in the UK to offer the apprenticeship.

Michael Leary, who joined Unilever working in its Advanced Manufacturing Research and Development (R&D) Centre in Port Sunlight in October 2018, is the first to take part in this degree apprenticeship opportunity. While working as part of the pilot plant team, he is studying part time at the University of Chester for a BEng degree in Chemical Engineering. Michael, who has straight A grades in Maths, Chemistry and Biology A-levels, is paid by Unilever as a full-time employee during the apprenticeship, and, as with all degree apprenticeships, he does not pay any tuition fees.

“It’s a superb opportunity for me”, says Michael. “I’m busy but really happy to be learning in both the University and workplace environment. The principles I get from my University studies are reinforced with real-life experience at Unilever, where I work closely with process development engineers, R&D scientists and pilot plant technicians.”

Professor Steve Wilkinson, head of the department of chemical engineering at the University of Chester, says: “This is a fantastic opportunity for Michael and the other degree apprentices and it fits perfectly with the Faculty of Science and Engineering’s ethos at Thornton Science Park, where we work hard to ensure that we produce industry-ready graduates.

“Our Department is only five years old and already it has an excellent reputation, with accreditation from the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) achieved at the earliest opportunity. When we designed our courses from scratch in 2013, we built them around industrial input. Our partnership with Unilever is another great example of how we put our students first, ensuring that they get an understanding of what it means to be a professional engineer from day one.”

Image caption: From left to right: Chris Lewis, University of Chester Apprentice Learning Mentor; Professor Steve Wilkinson, Head of Chemical Engineering at the University of Chester; Michael Leary, Unilever Degree Apprentice; Tom Gibbins, Unilever Advanced Manufacturing Centre and Pilot Plants Manager; Bill Harper, IChemE Immediate Past Vice-President Qualifications.

Adam Offord

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