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Degree apprenticeships have potential to fill skills gaps

Degree apprentices in break out area

​​​​New degree apprenticeships have the potential to help fill skills gaps and meet employers’ needs, according to a report from Universities UK (UUK).

The government pledged to create 3 million new apprenticeships in England by 2020. Last year, the coalition government announced nine new industry-designed degree apprenticeships. Apprentices have full-time employment status – rather than student status – and do not pay for training costs or tuition fees.

Whilst degree apprenticeships are relatively new, numbers are growing at a positive rate, with an estimated 1,500-2,000 starts for 2016 across 40 universities. UUK’s report The future growth of degree apprenticeships – published during National Apprenticeship Week 2016 – identifies the factors that will impact on the potential growth and success of degree apprenticeships.

The report's main findings include:

  • Degree apprenticeships can be particularly attractive to non-traditional students, providing an opportunity for degree apprenticeships to support widening participation goals
  • They offer a way for universities to diversify their offer and develop alternatives to traditional full-time on-campus study
  • There is a need to raise awareness among potential apprentices, their parents and those who support them (such as careers advisers).

Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of Universities UK, said: “Universities have been actively involved in the development and delivery of these new, industry-designed degree apprenticeships.

“Combining a full degree, with the real, practical skills gained in work, make degree apprentices highly employable. They benefit from several years of workplace experience, alongside studying a course tailored specifically to employers' needs.

“They have the potential to help fill specific skills gaps and meet employers’ needs. Universities have the facilities and the innovative links with employers that help give UK companies a genuine competitive edge and create high value jobs for employees.

Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP, said: “Degree apprenticeships give young people the opportunity to succeed like never before.

“We launched them to help employers find the talent they need to grow and innovate their workforces. As part of our offer of high quality apprenticeships at all levels, meeting employers' needs and driving up productivity, I want young people across the country to benefit from the life-changing opportunities that a degree apprenticeship can unlock.”

Tom Banham, Head of Academy Talent Acquisition at Nestlé, who collaborate with Sheffield Hallam University on degree apprenticeships, said: “We have found that the combination of practical, commercial experience at Nestlé and academic excellence at Sheffield Hallam is giving young people the skills that they need to become successful. It’s a great way for us to grow and develop our future business leaders.”

Key Contacts

James Ransom

James Ransom

Policy Researcher
Universities UK

Julie Tam

Julie Tam

Deputy Director of Policy
Universities UK

Greg Wade

Greg Wade

Programme Manager
Universities UK

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