Apprenticeships are the future of technical education

Tuesday 2 November 2021, UCAS advice


Apprenticeships are the future of technical education


Creating an early talent pipeline through degree apprenticeships isn’t simply valuable, it’s the future.

With the government’s 2021 Skills for jobs white paper we have a strong indication that apprenticeships will play a key role in filling the digital skills shortage – and that employers will lead the way.

‘Training and qualifications must meet the needs of employers. We will achieve this by aligning the vast majority of post-16 technical education and training to employer-led standards by the end of the decade.’

We know the funding is there

All UK businesses with a payroll of more than £3 million are already paying 0.5% of their annual pay bill into the apprenticeships levy. It’s your rainy-day fund for training apprentices – though if you don’t access your share within 24 months, it just goes back to the government.

We know students are interested

From our UCAS data this year, we know more than 50% of the students interested in applying for university in 2022 also registered an interest in apprenticeships.

We know apprenticeships can be sustainable business models

Apprenticeships can diversify your workforce, as well as acting as a recruitment strategy backed by levy funding. You can innovate in all areas of your organisation by introducing apprentices to professions that may not have them before.

Don’t worry if you don’t have the expertise to train apprentices in all the professions you’d like to bring into your business. Plenty of employers partner with learning providers – like colleges and universities – while tailoring the learning to align with your organisation’s goals.

“It’s really important to us that we focus on this diverse workforce – how do we adapt, become more flexible, how do we make sure we really are addressing these skills shortages? We’re doing that with apprenticeship programmes.

“On face value Capgemini are a technical organisation, but we’ve now branched out into more business and functional roles. We’ve introduced HR, finance and business apprenticeships – so we’re really looking to branch out into other parts of our business that haven’t explored this route before. We’ve got quite a large levy pot and we’re thinking creatively about how to use that to upskill our workforce.”

Ben Rubery, Apprenticeships Programme Manager, Capgemini

We know it’s not that hard to become your own apprenticeship provider

It may take time, but you don’t need to be an expert in apprenticeships. Whether you partner with a learning provider and tailor apprenticeship programmes to your organisation – or whether you decide your organisation should become the learning provider and offer apprenticeships fully in-house.

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (EFSA) and the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) have detailed rules for setting up degree apprenticeships, and there’s plenty of support and help available.

“It’s a fantastic solution because we’re in complete control of our apprenticeship programme which means we can make them highly relevant to what’s going on in the organisation. It’s relatively simple to do that and the funding is there.

“Ofsted and the ESFA are quite frankly terrifying at first – visits and audits – but they’re really quite simple. They have a set of rules, which once you understand, you can just implement. It’s purely about doing the right thing for your learners. If you say you’re doing something in your curriculum, just make sure you are – Ofsted aren’t there to trip you up.”

Andy Rayner, Head of Apprenticeships, Travis Perkins

We know apprenticeships can fill the digital skills gap

Apprenticeships and technical education are the way the UK is going to plug the growing skills gap. Whether you partner with a learning provider or you become one yourself, you’ll be unlocking a funded talent pipeline to ensure your business isn’t disadvantaged.

“We’ve seen an exponential growth in our digital function, so we’ve been really focusing our attention on the digital skills gap.

“We know there will be rapidly growing demand for technical talent in roles like software engineering, network operation, cyber security. But we also know we’re going to begin to see that external scarcity – which is why we’ve invested so heavily in our technology and digital apprenticeships.’’

Asha Jagatia, Future Talent & Capability Manager, Vodafone

We know what students want from employers

While many students have a great idea of what traditional university education is like, there’s far lower awareness of degree apprenticeships and what they might expect from the experience.

They’re looking for greater insight and much more information about:

  • The role – starting salary, a detailed job description, typical day/tasks, skills gained
  • The process – how to apply, timelines
  • Requirements – qualifications, experience, skills, what’s expected of them
  • The benefits – future prospects, career progression
  • What it’s like – insight from other apprentices within the organisation
  • Social aspects – opportunities to connect as an apprentice

We want apprenticeships to be as accessible as traditional university study

At UCAS, we’re raising visibility of apprenticeships and helping applicants to find and apply for them. We’re trying to create parity between the traditional undergraduate route and the apprenticeship pathway. We see some of the brightest minds come through UCAS and we want to open doors for them. They may not have considered apprenticeships previously, but with the right information, advice, and guidance, they might reconsider and think it’s a good opportunity.We can help you find your apprentices!

You can list your apprenticeship vacancies on our Course Finder (for free) to reach over 70,000 users a month. Apprenticeships were viewed over 1.2 million times in the past 12 months, and in the same time period we’ve had a 37% increase in job views and 24% increase in job applications.

You can also set up your employer profile (for free) to showcase your organisation, what apprenticeship vacancies you offer, what it’s like to work with you – to start recruiting apprentices through UCAS.

Please get in touch if we can support you