Professor Tom Barker, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Technology at the University of Gloucestershire

Last week the University of Gloucestershire was awarded £240,000 by HEFCE to expand its portfolio of apprenticeships, including three new degree apprenticeships in the Science and Technology (STEM) sector.

Published: 16/11/2016 12:09

Last week the University of Gloucestershire was awarded £240,000 by HEFCE to expand its portfolio of apprenticeships, including three new degree apprenticeships in the Science and Technology (STEM) sector.

One of the new degree apprenticeships being developed is the Internet of Things (IoT) and Cyber Systems Engineer degree apprenticeship. This apprenticeship will offer Gloucestershire businesses the opportunity to equip their staff with the skills so they need to become frontrunners in this rapidly developing field.

Professor Tom Barker, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Technology at the University of Gloucestershire, explains that the Internet of Things will have a significant impact on organisations and individuals in the future: The IoT Phenomenon is not new. As early as 1999, while most of us were still learning how to use emails, Kevin Ashton coined the term in an article which he entitled “That ‘Internet of Things’ Thing”! In brief, the IoT allows people and ‘things’ to be connected anytime, anyplace, with anything and anyone - ideally using any network and any service.

The IoT is more than just a buzz word – it is about creating a new digital landscape where connections are not limited to linear pathways and bound by rigid structures. And this is new world order is growing fast - the convergence of wireless communication, the Internet, embedded systems and micro-electromechanics has accelerated growth, with 2 billion devices connected by 2010.  Forecasts for the number of connected devices on the IoT for the year 2020 vary considerably but Morgan Stanley expect the number will reach 75 billion. While growth projections are debatable there is one certainty - the commercial impact of the IoT will be major. According to Gartner, the economic value of the IoT will reach $1.9trillion by 2020.

But while this growth will undoubtedly offer opportunities for some, it also presents additional threats to all. As the market size increases hackers have an expanded surface area to target, including CCTV cameras, printers, domestic boilers, Smart TVs and kettles, amongst other things. As such, all businesses need to be aware of the IoT – from the technology companies who are looking to shape the IoT landscape and drive growth, through to sole traders who need to be aware of the new vulnerabilities it brings. 

For the former, our new IoT and Cyber Systems Engineer degree apprenticeship fuses computer science, electrical engineering and mathematics to deliver intelligent, networked objects and devices. At the same time, all our STEM apprenticeships have been developed by working with top cyber security firms in the region to ensure that all learners develop the information security skills required in the era of IoT.”

The University of Gloucestershire has invested heavily in computing and technology, at both the university’s own campuses and in facilities at the Berkeley Science and Technology Park (a development that has taken place in partnership with the Local Enterprise Partnership and South Gloucestershire and Stroud College). Applications this year for undergraduate computing courses are up around 50%, and the university expects to see a similar spike in interest for the new degree apprenticeships.