Degree Apprenticeships are a no brainer

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We've put our full support towards the new Degree Apprenticeships announced by the Prime Minister today. And here's our blog on why. 

Economically valuable industries such as manufacturing can only grow and prosper if highly-skilled employees are there for the taking. Manufacturers need to increase investment to train employees to keep up with new processes and recruit highly-skilled employees who have more than the somewhat traditional technical competencies and generic skills required in the past. However, employers will need the training model and institutions to deliver this.

To date, there has been a noticeable gap in higher-level provision that combines both vocational and academic learning to the level demanded by fast-moving evolving sectors such as engineering. The recent announcement by the Prime Minister David Cameron to roll-out degree apprenticeships is the opportunity to fill this gap and one we very much support.

Already, employers are increasingly demanding a mix of vocational and academic prowess from prospective candidates and anecdotally we are beginning to see a shift away from graduate recruitment towards advanced and higher apprentices so that employers can achieve exactly this. We now need to go above this and focus on skill level 6 and beyond, which has traditionally been associated with Bachelor’s degrees.

For employers and learners alike, degree apprenticeships are a no brainer. Learners earn while they learn to a degree level. They can acquire a degree without taking out a penny in loans. They also have the security that their host employer will become their future permanent employer. Indeed three-quarters of manufacturers say all their apprentices stay with them permanently after completing their training.

Employers have access to relevant, responsive, quality provision. For too long, manufacturers have been left frustrated that they cannot demand the provision they need. The reforms to apprenticeships following the publication of the Richard Review have moved us in the right direction. Standards designed and developed by employers, a stronger focus on quality and the final piece of the jigsaw – giving employers control of the funding.

In the new world of apprenticeships where employers are firmly in the driving seat, degree apprenticeships will give employers even more control. They will give them the opportunity to co-design degree apprenticeships and the purchasing power to buy the training provision from their desired institution. It is clear to see that this is an opportunity not to be missed and that’s why we are calling on employers in our sector to step up to the plate and take this agenda forward.

And our final call, as the General Election fast approaches, is for the next government, of whichever colour, to recognise that initiatives that involve education institutions, employers and government such as degree apprenticeships need long time-commitment and significant investment in time to succeed, so once we have degree apprenticeships in place….let’s give them time to make their mark and resist temptation to tinker round the edges.

Author

Head of Education & Skills Policy

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