Students in telecommunications technology will soon be able to start their degrees at 16 rather than 18 under plans for a new five-year course being finalised by Marconi.
The electronics company hopes to attract more young people to a career in the industry by offering them a seamless route from education to employment.
Around twenty 16-year-olds from around Coventry will be chosen to take part in the pilot degree in communications technologies, likely to start next year.
Once the course is established, the company hopes to broaden its reach within the UK and to transfer it to universities in other countries with high numbers of Marconi employees.
Paul Watts, director of UK education at Marconi, said he was confident the programme would produce the company’s future high-flyers.
`What I would hope is that because of the kind of educational experience they will have been through, and the contact with the business they will have gained, they will have the opportunity for an accelerated career progression within the company,’ he said.
The scheme is to be supported by three new Marconi Labs – research and development centres to be established at Warwick University, Parma University in Italy and Carnegie-Mellon University at Pittsburgh in the US. A similar centre, to be set up at Cambridge University at a cost of £12m, was announced in early April.
The research centres are intended to develop new technology and create closer partnerships between universities and industry, Watts said.
The Marconi Lab at Warwick University will be run in partnership with the Warwick Manufacturing Group, and the university is also expected to run the pilot five-year degree course.
Dr Michael Sanderson, chief executive of the Engineering and Marine Training Authority, said the degrees sounded like a good idea. `I’m delighted to see an engineering company investing in this sort of training, and tailoring it to their own needs,’ he said.
`Some of the people who have contributed most to our industry didn’t follow the straightforward route from A-levels to university degree, and probably succeeded because they had broader industrial experience earlier on in their career,’ he added.
Copyright: Centaur Communications Ltd. and licensors