Drone course partnership takes off with contract signing

The University of Wolverhampton has signed a partnership contract to deliver drone pilot courses over the next two years.

The Remote Pilot Certificate SUAS (RPCS) course, which is Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) approved, leads to Permission for Commercial Operations status – providing commercial drone pilots with the skills and qualification to operate safely and legally in UK airspace.

The course has been delivered for the past year on an informal partnership basis with partner, RUSTA UAV Training Professionals.  Members from City of Wolverhampton Council’s Schools Technology Support Centre have benefited from training as well as companies from the agriculture sector.

Marc Fleetham, Director of Business Solutions at the University, said:  “The drone pilot training courses that we’ve offered over 40 companies over the past year have proven to be so successful that we have strengthened our informal partnership with RUSTA to create a more formal, contractual arrangement.

“Drone footage provides businesses with high quality aerial and ground based video and images in order for companies to improve their business capability.  As more and more businesses look for visual solutions to improve their services – especially those involved in broadcast, photography, construction, surveying, agritech and the Emergency Services,  having access to CAA approved drone pilot training on their doorstep is an added bonus.”

Sion Roberts, Director at RUSTA UAV Training Professionals, said: “Drone technology is really taking off because it has the capability of reaching the most remote areas with little to no manpower needed which is why demand for this particular course is on the increase.”

“The courses we have delivered to date have been very well received by businesses in the local area – we’ve even had interest from as far away as Bristol – which is why this two year contract to jointly deliver 24 more courses over the next two years is a real milestone for ourselves and the University.”

Richard Sparks, a Surveyor at Advantage Geomatics based in Shrewsbury, heard about the drone course through the Shropshire Chamber of Commerce and was impressed that it was run by ex-military aviation personnel.

He said:  “I was looking for a course that offered the highest possible standards because it’s important to demonstrate this to clients.  The potential that drones offer in surveying is only going to improve as technology develops better cameras at a more affordable cost. Being qualified to operate a Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) will mean that I no longer have to employ external services, meaning savings for the company and for my clients.”

The two and a half day course includes a theoretical overview of air law, principles of flight and insights into meteorology as well as covering emergency procedures. The University currently has three different types of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAV) suitable for both interior and exterior usage, complete with high definition cameras designed to capture video and still images, which are used for training.

The course is delivered at the University’s Science Park, Wolverhampton, Business Solutions Centre, Telford Innovation Campus, and Business Solutions Centre, Hereford. The course price is £995 + VAT and includes refreshments. For more information contact: A.Nicholas2@wlv.ac.uk.

Picture Caption from left to right: Professor Ian Oakes, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Wolverhampton and Sion Roberts, Director at RUSTA UAV Training Professionals.

New degree apprenticeship launched

Major employers have signed up to a new Degree Apprenticeship programme at the University.

More than 20 apprentices from organisations including Walsall Council, Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, the Beacon Centre, Liberty group and Phosters started the new Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship (CMDA) recently.

The University’s Apprenticeship Hub agreed a three year partnership deal with a large international company to provide one of the first CMDAs in the country last year. Now the successful programme is being widened out to other organisations for the first time.

The CMDA covers all aspects of business including management, marketing, human resources, finance and operations management, and leads to apprentices becoming Chartered Managers with the Chartered Management Institute (CMI).

Carl Edwards, Financial Systems Development Officer at Walsall Council, is one of the new apprentices. He said: “I decided to apply for the Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship to get recognition for the management role I have and to progress my knowledge. I also feel it will give me better prospects for my career in the future.”

Helena Baxter, Project Officer – Apprenticeships at Walsall Council, added: “We have an Apprenticeship levy to spend and we want to give staff the opportunity to develop their skills in the workplace and gain a formal qualification. We decided to partner with the University of Wolverhampton after experiencing excellent employer engagement – everyone has been very responsive and approachable.”

Mark Price, Director of Apprenticeships (Business) at the University, said: “The CMDA provides a range of benefits for students and the employers. The students get a mixture of theory, knowledge, skills and training to ensure they can develop further as managers within their organisations. The employers get committed, able, confident staff who are looking to make changes within their organisation based on the most up-to-date theory and practice within business and the commercial environment.”

Michele Roberts, Head of the Apprenticeship Hub at the University, added: “It was great to welcome the new Chartered Manager Degree Apprentices and their line managers to the University for the introduction session to meet with skills coaches and understand the key benefits of the programme.”

Designed by employers, universities and professional bodies, Degree Apprenticeships deliver high-tech and high level skills and offer an alternative to a traditional degree course. Bringing together university study with paid work in a blended learning model, Degree Apprentices spend part of their time at university and part with their employer.

As well as CMDA, the University is offering Higher and Degree Apprenticeships in Construction Management with pathways for Civil Engineering & Built Environment, Manufacturing Engineering, Product Design & Engineer, Chartered Surveying, Chartered Legal Executive, Digital Technology Solutions Professional and Healthcare Science Practitioner.

Future Degree Apprenticeships will include Policing, Social Work, Nursing and Paramedic Degree Apprenticeships.

The University’s Apprenticeship Hub provides a bespoke and independent venue for potential apprentices, employers and learning providers, offering clear and integrated progression routes for vocational pathways.

There will be May and September intakes for the CMDA. Employers of all sizes can benefit from the programme – those paying the levy can use it for the programme whilst those who do not pay the levy benefit from a 90% contribution towards the training costs from Government.

For further information, visit: https://www.wlv.ac.uk/apprenticeships/ or email: apprenticeshiphub@wlv.ac.uk

Funding secured to develop high level cybersecurity course

The University of Wolverhampton has secured £192,000 to develop cybersecurity courses in support of the Industrial Strategy.

The funding has been awarded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) as part of its £6 million Catalyst Fund programme to co-develop and co-design courses in conjunction with local and national employers.

Working with employers and key partners, the West Midlands Cybercrime Unit and Satisnet, who provide cloud based training, the project will help to provide the cyber skills needed in the future economy and support the aims of the Industrial Strategy’s ‘Grand Challenges’.

The project aims to develop a Master’s Degree in Cybercrime, combining technical and management skills which will be offered as a weekend learning course.

The University of Wolverhampton has been working on cyber security initiatives for the past 10 years having established Warning, Advice and Reporting Points (WARPs) in the East and West Midlands and the South of England.  It has also invested £500,000 through its Research Investment Fund to set up the Wolverhampton Cyber Research Institute.

Professor Amar Aggoun, Head of the School of Mathematics and Computer Science at the University, said:  “The growth of the UK’s digital economy depends on its ability to make sure it’s secure when it comes to cyber threats.  There’s a lack of skills and knowledge across the public and private sector and a need to develop specialist skills and capabilities to allow us to keep pace with rapidly evolving technology in order to manage the risks.

“The new course will be designed to appeal to anyone with working experience in the area from entrance level up to established consultants and practitioners.  It will be designed in conjunction with our partners using CyberKombat – a cybersecurity modelling, development training, testing and certification environment which mimics real world security architectures and operations centres.

“It is hoped that the course can eventually be rolled out to other areas across the country.”

Detective Sergeant Gary Sirrell, Regional Cyber Protect and Prevent Officer at the Cybercrime Unit, said: “We have worked with the University of Wolverhampton since the initiation of the Cybercrime Unit and want to further develop initiatives to assure the growth of the economy in the West Midlands region through an increased knowledge of cyber security risk and the safe use of technology.

“I believe that this successful bid will achieve significant impact on cybersecurity awareness and provide regional leadership for cybersecurity; a sustainable resource for cybercrime prevention in the West Midlands.”

John McCann, Director at Satisnet, said:  “We have pledged to provide our Cloud Training Environment free of charge for the project, providing CyberKombat software enabling interactive classroom simulations as well as providing facilities to learn hacking or defending techniques.”

The Cybercrime Unit will also help to develop tailored training programmes and provision of case study materials from ‘real events’ as well as creating materials to support activities.

Picture Caption: From left to right Professor Prashant Pillai, Professor of Cybersecurity at the University, Tony Proctor, Principal Lecturer in the School of Mathematics and Computer Science at the University, Gregory Epiphaniou, Reader in Cybersecurity at the University, John McCann, Director at Satisnet, Professor Amar Aggoun, Head of School of Mathematics and Computer Science at the University and Detective Sergeant Gary Sirrell, Regional Cyber Protect and Prevent Officer at the West Midlands Cybercrime Unit.

Augmented Intelligence


BT Infinity Awards are looking for the best in AI talent.

Are you a talented small company or start up, with a passion for solving problems using Augmented Intelligence?

This year’s BT Infinity Awards, in partnership with the Cabinet Office and TechHub, are looking to find the best digital talent in machine learning, robotics and artificial intelligence.

We are looking for small companies with big ideas that can be turned into real life solutions across the public, defence or retail sectors.

The prize

girl building robot

There are three prizes of £10,000, plus we’ll also offer you six months business support to help you develop your idea and drive it to the next level.

That’s not all, our partners TechHub are offering a flex membership at their London office for six months to help you take your businesses to the next level.

How to enter

man playing chess

You don’t need previous experience of public sector, defence or retail to enter. It’s all about how you apply your thinking to the real world challenges across one or more of the following topics:

  • Digital Public Services
    Have you got an idea that can transform public services? It could be internal, with civil service or public sector teams. External, with citizens and service users. Or even both.
    Britain’s decision to Exit the European Union brings new challenges for the public sector, by creating a fresh delivery landscape and innovation opportunities to respond to new arrangements and regulatory frameworks.

    Alongside these new challenges, Government is looking for innovative ways of delivering services: this competition is looking for SMEs with solutions for end to end digital transformation that genuinely disrupts traditional approaches to delivering key outcomes for citizens. Perhaps you’re working in robotic process automation that improves the experiences for citizens in engaging with the public sector. Or you have developed a machine learning solution that helps personalise the experience for users and improves the effectiveness of engagement of public bodies. If your ideas can be applied to making public services better, we’d love to hear from you.

  • Digital Defence Enablement
    Could your idea help a commander and their staff better plan an operation? Could it help them visualise and test the impact of decisions before they act? Or even assess their manoeuvres in real time?
    Today’s modern army is about much more than protecting the UK, and our territories. They are there to prevent conflict around the globe and to provide assistance during large-scale emergencies or natural disasters. So planning any military operation is complex, with multiple, often conflicting priorities to consider round how resources should be moved, located and kept secure.

    We’re looking for way in which Augmented Intelligence can present a commander and their staff with better ways of planning an operation, graphically visualising and testing the impact of their decisions in advance and assessing in real time the impacts on forces and their manoeuvres.

    And just to let you know, before the Army invests completely in the winning concept, they’ll need to fully test it first.

  • Digital Retail
    Could your idea better connect us with customers and make for a more personalised retail experience? Could it drive operational transformation, whether it’s inventory management, warehousing or in-store analytics? Or even use online engagement to drive in-store sales?

Enter now!

We have two ways to enter:

a) Via the F6S portal


b) Fill in a simple form and we will send you a briefing pack with more info.
It’s probably a good idea to read the competition’s terms and conditions before you enter.

What’s happening when

6 February – 12 March
Entry period – we need you to complete the application form and send us a short video outlining your idea.

20 March
We’ll look at all the videos and pick a shortlist of the best entries.

16 April
Shortlist announced. We’ll contact you during the week of 9 April if you make the cut.

24 April – Finals and Awards ceremony at BT Tower
If you are on the shortlist we’ll invite you to come and pitch your idea to our judging panel at the BT Tower. You’ll need to make a short presentation and take questions from the judges.

Then, in the evening, you get the chance to see the spectacular views from the 34th floor where there will be the awards ceremony to announce the winners.

After 24 April
If you are lucky enough to win, we’ll start to work with you to offer our support develop your idea. You will take up your TechHub membership and have £10,000 to spend on growing your businesses.

Judging panel

Colm O’Neill
Managing Director, Major & Public Sector, BT (chair)

Tim Whitley
Managing Director, Research & Innovation, BT

Anthony Boyle
Director, Defence, BT

Ian Caveney
Director, Purposeful Business, BT

General Sir Chris Deverell
Commander, Joint Forces Command, MoD

Alison Pritchard
Chief Operating Officer, Government Digital Service

Kathy Quashie
Director, Major Corporate, BT

Elizabeth Varley
CEO and Co-founder, TechHub

Simon Bourne 
Group CIO, The Co-operative Group

PM’s speech at Davos 2018: 25 January

The Prime Minister addressed the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Read more

Prime Minister announces £20 million Institute of Coding

IBM, Cisco, Microsoft and others join forces with universities and industry bodies to boost future digital skills

Read more

Institute of Coding

The Institute of Coding is an initiative to establish an institute to serve as a national focus for improving digital skills provision at Levels 6 and 7.

Read more

Channel operations overhaul for Microsoft

Partners have welcomed news that Microsoft is overhauling its partner business, in a move it claims will make it easier for its channel to do business with the firm.

The reorganisation will see Microsoft combine its Enterprise Product Group (EPG) with its SMS&P (Small and Mid-market Solutions and Partners) group. The announcement was first published on ZDNet, but in a statement afterwards, Microsoft said:

“These changes are designed to unify teams from across the Commercial Business, making it easier to do business with Microsoft and meet the needs of its thriving partner ecosystem and customer base.”

The new combined EPG and SMS&P business will be run by Chris Weber, corporate vice president of mid-market solutions and partners…

Click here to read the full story…

Digital Skills: DIGITAL SME pledge to train 5.000 ICT professionals by 2019

The European DIGITAL SME Alliance launched #DigitalSME4skills, a new ambitious campaign for digital skills. The alliance pledged that digital small and medium sized enterprises will train 5.000 ICT professionals by 2019.

Oliver Grün, DIGITAL SME president and software entrepreneur, presented the pledge at the launch of the Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition at the presence of Commissioner Oettinger, Vice President Ansip and the Belgian deputy Prime Minister Alexander De Croo. The Coalition is a multi-stakeholder partnership promoted by the European Commission to tackle the lack of digital skills in Europe.

Click here to read the full story…

Computing classes struggling to attract students

 A quarter of schools are offering new computing science GCSE and A-Level courses, research suggests

The changes to British computing education are failing to encourage more students into studying the subject – particularly those most in need of such encouragement.

British schools have shifted computing classes from ITC – such as learning how to use Microsoft Word – to more technical areas, including coding.

Research from Roehampton University revealed only 28% of schools had pupils taking the GCSE in computing in 2015, and only 24% had students taking the A-level, according to a BBC report.

The number of girls taking the course at GCSE climbed between 2015 and 2016 from 16% to 20%, and for A-levels from 8.5% to 10%, with female students gaining higher grades on average. Students on free meals made up 19% of GCSE computing students, versus 27% of the wider school population.

Click here to read the full story…