Apprenticeships (at Levels 4 to 7, including degree apprenticeships)
An apprenticeship is a full-time job where an employee undertakes off-the-job training paid for by the employer.
A degree apprenticeship is an apprenticeship where the employee is studying at undergraduate or postgraduate level (Levels 6 or 7 respectively) as part of their apprenticeship.
This is a subset of higher apprenticeships, which are available at Levels 4 to 7 and include other apprenticeships at Levels 6 and 7 that don’t lead to a degree on completion.
Higher education providers deliver the training. The government and employers fund it.
The apprentice receives a wage from their employer and they do not pay tuition fees.
Training formats vary. They include day release, block release and distance learning models. Apprentices apply to the employer, not via UCAS or the higher education provider.
Degree apprenticeships are apprenticeships which include a degree for an undergraduate (Level 6) or master's (Level 7) qualification. There are other apprenticeships at these levels that do not necessarily lead to a degree.
To deliver a degree apprenticeship programme, providers must be:
- registered with the Education and Skills Funding Agency on their Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers (RoATP)
- a subcontractor to an approved provider on the register.
Employer groups or ‘trailblazers’ agree the knowledge, skills and behaviours for competent apprentices. These are published as an apprenticeship ‘standard’.
Apprenticeship standards are approved by the Institute for Apprenticeships.
A recent evaluation of funding to support degree apprenticeships shows that one of the reasons providers started to offer degree apprenticeships was to support social mobility.
Providers have undertaken two clear streams of activity:
- raising awareness in schools and colleges that these apprenticeships offer another pathway for students to achieve a higher education qualification, without debt, that leads to excellent outcomes
- establishing partnerships with employers looking to upskill and reskill their existing workforce.
Delivering apprenticeships can provide opportunities for collaboration beyond employers. Some of the funded projects to support degree apprenticeships worked with local outreach teams (created through the National Collaborative Outreach Programme) to set up and promote degree apprenticeships.
Another project partnered with a private provider to deliver Level 2 English and Maths, which helped existing employees to improve their skills.
Developing degree apprenticeships has also created opportunities for providers to work closely with the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), further education colleges and wider regional partnership organisations.
Benefits reported by providers offering degree apprenticeships include:
- offering programmes designed to meet employer needs, which increases the likelihood of highly skilled employment for students
- expanding the range of programmes on offer to wider (and potentially more diverse) pool of prospective students
- strengthening links with employers and generating a new source of income
- developing programmes and links with accredited professional bodies.
- Flexible learning: the current state of play in UK higher education
- The economic case for flexible learning
- Evaluation report for Degree Apprenticeships Development Fund (DADF) programme
- OfS analysis of degree apprenticeships
- Guidance on degree apprenticeships for apprentices, employers and providers
- Guidance for providers on how to register on the RoATP
- Search function for apprenticeship standards (approved/in development)
- University Vocational Awards Council (UVAC)
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