It’s great that the first cohort of degree apprentices has graduated, but there should be more of them

Degree Apprenticeships are one of the most exciting developments to happen in the school leaver market for years, but more needs to be done to increase uptake of the programmes. All About School Leavers reports in FE News

Government statistics show that Level 6 (bachelor’s degree level) and Level 7 (master’s degree level) have shockingly low participation rates in comparison to other levels of apprenticeship. While there were 259,430 Intermediate Apprenticeship starts in England in 2016/17, 195,770 Advanced Apprenticeship starts, and 34,470 Levels 4 and 5 Higher Apprenticeships, the number of people starting Level 6 (bachelor’s degree level) programmes for the year was just 1,620 and there were only 50 Level 7 (master’s degree level) starts.

By comparison, 505,680 applicants were placed on full-time degree courses at UK universities in 2017, with one in three English 18-year-olds securing university places that year.

More young people should be enjoying the benefits of these apprenticeship programmes. Not only do they offer the chance to achieve a degree without the burden of debt (employers pay tuition fees, while government pays for training) but those completing Degree Apprenticeships are especially employable, as each programme has been designed with the industry’s needs in mind.

Another advantage of a Degree Apprenticeship is the working relationships that apprentices forge with their employees and colleagues, developing the so-called ‘soft skills’ – effective teamwork, communications, negotiating skills, ability to work under pressure, problem-solving – that employers so desperately want in young recruits. 

The skills that standard graduates often lack, despite their academic credentials, are ones that are developed during the workplace element of a Degree Apprenticeship, so the young people completing these programmes are armed with a desirable, and quite rare, skills set alongside their university qualification. 

Chloe Richmond, Customer Category Manager at Nestlé , completed the Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship with the company and has benefited hugely from it. She says the combination of work and study was particularly useful, as it meant she could immediately apply the theory she was learning to the real-life workplace, but also use skills and knowledge picked up in the workplace during her studies.

“Our apprentices have a strong work ethic and make huge commitment in terms of their time,” says Ben Rubery, Nestlé Apprentice Programme Manager. “We’re extremely proud of our first Degree Apprentice graduates – the first to graduate in the UK with 64% receiving a first class mark. They bring an agile approach, a huge amount of collaborative spirit, and an infectious self drive to our business. Our programmes allow us to grow our own future leaders and technical specialists.”

Read more about Degree Apprenticeships It’s great that the first cohort of degree apprentices has graduated, but there should be more of them

Do students in schools and universities know enough about Degree Apprenticeships?  Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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