The Guardian is reporting the rise of Higher Level Apprenticeships for school leavers as an alternative to university…
An academic high-flyer, Sophie Dalby achieved top A-level grades and offers of places from five universities. But much to the surprise of staff at her school – who had expected her to go to university – she chose to take up an apprenticeship with accountancy firm BDO instead.
Her decision was largely motivated by the recent rise in tuition fees (now around £9,000 a year in many institutions). “It’s put a lot of people off,” she explains. “The scheme I am on is equivalent to a degree, so I will be fully qualified by the time I am 23. Unlike a degree, everything is paid for; we are training quicker and learning the skills employers are after.”
Huge government investment in apprenticeships (around £1.5bn in the past year alone) means there are now more apprenticeship opportunities for young people in a growing number of sectors, ranging from supply chain management to agriculture.
And far from being an alternative route for those who aren’t academic, apprenticeships offer learning and career opportunities for all young people.
While apprenticeships start at level 2 (GCSE equivalent), higher level apprenticeships (HLAs), which are equivalent to degree-level qualifications and beyond are increasingly commonplace.
Last year, there were 3,700 HLAs available (up by 67.6% on the previous year), and for school-leavers in 2013, HLAs will span 41 subject areas.
Dalby is working towards a new level 7 (master’s degree level) HLA developed by the professional services firm PwC, in partnership with other businesses in the financial sector. It covers accountancy, auditing and tax and is the first to provide a work-based route to chartered professional status.
Other newly launched HLAs include a degree-level course in management accounting (due to be launched in September), a level 4 course in legal services, and a degree-level space engineering qualification.
The global engineering company Siemens is also embracing HLAs, offering courses in engineering, project management, business administration, IT and finance. The firm currently has 300 apprentices across all levels, 80 of whom are working towards HLAs.
“School-leavers bring a new dynamic,” says Joanne Gogerly, finance and commercial skills consultant at Siemens. “They’re not afraid to question, they’re fantastic to work with. They’re just as talented as some of the graduates.”
The skills minister, Matthew Hancock, has praised the growth of HLAs and said he wants to see more programmes being developed: “It should be the norm that students either go to university or on to an apprenticeship scheme when they leave school.”
More at: Students seek out apprenticeships
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