In a bid to tackle the IT skills gap, the UK government has rolled out a degree apprenticeship scheme, in which 40 companies have teamed up with universities across the country to hire IT apprentices.
It is hoped that the initiative will help to bridge the skills gap by providing individuals with both academic know-how and job experience - two factors that employees consider to be lacking among prospective candidates.
Last year, the number of IT apprenticeships fell by a third. Therefore, the government-backed scheme aims to change the perception of apprenticeships by encouraging a wider uptake of vocational IT training.
Speaking at an IBM-hosted event, Jon Thorn - from the National Apprenticeship Service - said: "For the last 20 years the emphasis has been on young people entering into degrees post-A Level.
"We are on a journey to demonstrating to young people that they have an option, post-education, that they can undertake an apprenticeship or a degree, or both.
"We have further work to do - both as employers and government - to get young people and parents to understand the real value of a degree apprenticeship. There is a strong view that degrees are the currency you need, and that is not always true."
The launch of the degree apprenticeship scheme, heralded earlier this year by prime minister David Cameron, gives students the option to divide their time between university study and workplace training.
Courses are available at a number of universities, including Manchester Metropolitan University, Queen Mary University and Northumbria University, and tend to last between three and five years.
Due to joint government and employer funding, students taking part can graduate with a full honours degree without being faced by extortionate levels of student debt.
Tech Partnership’s Bob Clift added: "There is certainly a perception that this is a watered-down degree. I actually think it is going to be harder than getting a degree.
"The students who are doing this will be working full time and studying for a degree at the same. I think you will see that they will flourish because of that."