They are similar to higher apprenticeships, but differ in that they provide an opportunity to gain a full bachelor’s (Level 6) or master’s degree (Level 7). The courses are designed in partnership with employers, with part-time study taking place at a university. They can take between three to six years to complete, depending on the level of the course. At the moment, the scheme only operates across England and Wales, although applications may be made from all parts of the UK.
Degree apprenticeships are new, so there are only a limited number of vacancies available at the moment. It is anticipated that the number of vacancies will grow over the next year or two, so if you decide a degree apprenticeship is the right choice for you, here are some tips to help you do your research:
- Check out the range and number of vacancies being advertised in the area(s) you're interested in. Check on a regular basis so you can get an idea of the availability of opportunities relevant to your interests.
- What is the timeframe from the vacancy being advertised to the application deadline and apprenticeship start date? This will give you an idea of how you need to prepare, and how quickly you will need to apply.
Competition for apprenticeships can be tough — partly because there are often only a limited number of vacancies available, particularly on higher and the new degree level apprenticeships, but also because school/college leavers and adults already in employment will be able to apply to them too. Employers may also be considering applications from existing employees, who may be applying for apprenticeships for the career progression opportunities they can offer.
What are they?
Degree apprenticeships are a new type of programme offered by some universities since September 2015.
These programmes are being developed by employers, universities, and professional bodies working in partnership. They offer students the opportunity to achieve a full bachelor's or master's degree as part of their apprenticeship.
Degree apprenticeships combine working with studying part-time at a university. Apprentices are employed throughout the programme, and spend part of their time at university and the rest with their employer. This can be on a day-to-day basis or in blocks of time, depending on the programme and requirements of the employer.
How do they work?
Apprentices will complete an assessment at the end of the programme, which tests both academic learning and occupational competence developed through on-the-job training.
The programme can be structured in one of two ways:
- Employers, universities, and professional bodies come together to co-design a fully-integrated degree course specifically for apprentices, which delivers and tests both academic learning and on-the-job training. This may be the preferred approach for many sectors, as the learning is seamless and it doesn't require a separate assessment of occupational competence.
- Alternatively, sectors may wish to use existing degree programmes to deliver the academic knowledge requirements of that profession. They would then combine this with additional training to meet the full apprenticeship training requirements, and have a separate test of full occupational competence at the end of the programme.
In either case, degrees earned via this route will be awarded by universities and will be of an equivalent standard to degrees taken via the full-time undergraduate route.
What are the benefits of degree apprenticeships?
- Apprentices are employed and paid a wage throughout the course.
- Apprentices will gain a full degree — bachelor's or master's — without needing to pay student fees.
- Apprentices will gain a head start in their chosen profession.
- It will allow apprentices to acquire the graduate/postgraduate level skills they need.
- Employers can attract new talent — particularly high calibre school-leavers who are keen to earn a degree in a work-based environment.
- Training costs are co-funded by the government and the employer.
How do they differ from sandwich degrees and work placements?
Degree apprenticeships build on the existing models of sandwich degrees (spending a year in industry) and work placements (doing industry placements in term time or holidays), but differ in several key ways:
- Degree apprentices are employed throughout and are doing paid work from day one.
- Employers may view these apprenticeships as a way of recruiting top prospective graduates.
- Degree apprentices are likely to have a greater attachment to their employer, and already being employed means they are more likely to stay with that company afterwards. Retention rates for apprentices can exceed 80%.
- In cases where a new degree is developed, employers will be able to work with universities to shape the overall degree programme and all aspects of their apprentice's training.
How are degree apprentices recruited?
Apprenticeships are jobs and so employers are ultimately responsible for recruitment. Both employers and universities will need to be satisfied the applicant meets their respective requirements. It is likely that some employers and universities will therefore do recruitment jointly.
As with other apprenticeships, employers may choose to advertise vacancies on the 'Find an apprenticeship' website.
You can now use UCAS’ career finder tool to see details of a number of new higher and degree apprenticeship vacancies. These are all being advertised by a small group of employers who are keen to recruit early, well in advance of their start date of September 2017 or later, providing you with plenty of time to consider all your post-18 options. Find out more about higher and degree apprenticeships in England.
The following degree apprenticeships are currently available. Click on the name of each apprenticeship to go to its approved apprenticeship standard, which sets out what an apprentice will be doing, and the skills required of them on completion of the apprenticeship.
- Chartered Surveying
- Chartered Manager
- Electronic Systems Engineering
- Aerospace Engineering
- Aerospace Software Development
- Defence Systems Engineering
- Laboratory Science
- Nuclear Science
- Power Systems
- Digital and Technology Solutions
- Automotive Engineering
- Banking Relationship Manager
- Technical Support Engineering
- Product Design and Development
- Bespoke Tailoring
- Licensed Conveyancer
- Dental Technician
- Healthcare Assistant Practitioner
- Chartered Legal Executive
- Operations Manager
- Laboratory Science
- Outside Broadcasting Engineering
Professional apprenticeships are available in Scotland – SCQF Level 10-11 (honours degree to master’s degree level). They all contain the same three basic elements:
- A relevant SVQ (or alternative competency based qualification), HN qualification, professional qualification, or other qualification at SCQF Level 10 and above.
- Career skills – a range of SVQ units at SCQF Level 8 or above, in the following areas: business administration, management (including business continuity and governance), customer service, and enterprise.
- Industry-specific training.