Degree apprenticeships are the newest development within apprenticeship schemes. Offered by selected universities, apprentices can achieve a full bachelor’s or master’s degree as part of their apprenticeship in conjunction with on the job learning in a relevantly placed workplace.

Those signed up to complete a degree apprenticeship work the same as lower level diplomas or programmes that have been around for years. The learner will be employed throughout the programme, spending part of their time studying at the university and the rest with their employer. This might be done either on a day-to-day basis or in blocks of time, depending on the requirements from the employer and the programme the learner has chosen to study.

The learner will be employed throughout the programme, spending part of their time studying at the university and the rest with their employer. This might be done either on a day-to-day basis or in blocks of time, depending on the requirements from the employer and the programme the learner has chosen to study.

Degree apprenticeships can take between three to six years to complete depending on the level of course. Currently, degree apprenticeships are only available in England and Wales although applications can be made from anywhere in the UK.

Degree apprenticeships have been designed differently to apprenticeships as they are known now. Employers, universities and professional bodies have co-designed a fully-integrated degree specifically for apprentices, which delivers, and tests both academic and workplace learning.

The input from employers has allowed degree apprenticeships to be targeted further to meet the needs of that specific job role and also gives employers the chance to hire apprentices who they see as potential future full-time employees. Retention
rates for apprentices can exceed that of 80%, making degree apprenticeships a great way into learning at a higher level and gaining relevant experience.

In 2015, the government released details for the 2020 Vision for Apprenticeships. The government set their aim at improving the quality of apprenticeships and the number of starts to three million by 2020.

Their goal? To get young people seeing apprenticeships as a high quality and prestigious path to successful careers, and for these opportunities to be available across all sectors of the economy, in all parts of the country,
at all levels. The involvement from the employers came after consideration that who knows better than the employers themselves what the industry needs?

The 2020 vision puts employers in the driving seat, giving them control over skills, knowledge and behaviours required for the future and for the workplace.The first degree apprentices have now graduated (2019) and employers are seeming more enthusiastic. However, in terms of meeting the 2020 vision now in 2019 this target seems unlikely. Apprenticeship numbers have dropped overall after the induction of the levy in April 2017, although figures from July 2019 showed a 7.1% increase in starts for the first three quarters of the 2018/19 academic year, 29.3% down on the same period in 16/17. But degree apprenticeships were only a small proportion of this total, with the Chartered Management option being the most popular but still only accounting for 1.5% of all apprenticeships taken (more than 7000).

Following the statistics, Alistair Jarvis, Chief Executive of Universities UK said: ‘benefits of degree apprenticeships to individuals, employers, the economy and the wider society are too great to keep a secret.’

To learn more about degree apprenticeships, who offers apprenticeship courses and the benefits to employers, download our guide here.