The apprenticeship team at Harper Adams University recently conducted a survey with apprentices and their employers. It has provided some useful feedback on how we can continue to develop our apprenticeship programme to support both the apprentice and the employer.
One of the most striking findings from the survey was that almost 60% of apprentices were not aware, before starting their course, that you could complete a degree on an apprenticeship programme. 75% of our apprentices are under 25 and choosing the degree apprenticeship at early stages in their career: 37% of respondents had started their apprenticeship directly after leaving school or college.
Employers said they chose the apprenticeship route for a number of reasons, with the most popular being “recruiting new staff” so there are real opportunities out there to start a professional career within a wide range of sectors without completing a fully academic route. You can find degree apprenticeship opportunities in your area through the Find an apprenticeship website
For some, the traditional full-time student experience is the right choice; for others, a number of factors can mean it is not suitable. The most commonly quoted benefit for completing a degree apprenticeship is that there is no student loan, so no debt for the individual at the end of their period of study. The apprentice will also gain valuable work experience and start to build a network of contacts with other professionals early on in their career. As with everything, there are good and bad points: a degree apprenticeship takes longer to complete and you will be working at the same time, meaning you will have to balance study alongside work. The apprenticeship requires a minimum of 20% protected time at work to complete learning, which can be sometimes difficult to manage. The employer will support in finding that balance, as will tutors and the apprenticeship team at the university.
Apprentices still need to study for an academic qualification and will be supported in this through block teaching weeks throughout the year, tutorials and 1:1 support. Any specific learning needs can be supported through the learning support team at the university and the first module on all programmes is “personal development” where study skills amongst other topics are covered.
80% of the survey respondents felt that “career progression” and “gaining a qualification” were factors for choosing the degree apprenticeship route; the degree apprenticeship allows individuals to have a good start in their career – gaining valuable work experience while studying for recognised qualifications.
Comments from apprentices and employers show that individuals are developing the knowledge, skills and behaviours required in their job role and employers could see where apprentices have applied knowledge gained from the apprenticeship programme. They could also provide examples of where the apprentice has gained wider skills. Apprentices mirrored these comments and said they had gained confidence in their abilities and gave specific examples of where they have applied knowledge learnt.
National statistics from apprenticeships.gov.uk support our own survey findings:
86% of employers said that apprenticeships helped develop skills relevant to their organisation
78% of employers said apprenticeships helped them improve productivity
74% of employers said apprenticeships helped them to improve the quality of their product or service
Degree apprenticeships were introduced in 2015 and there has been a steady rise in enrolments, however it is clear the option is not widely known. Degree apprenticeships are available in a wide range of subject areas, including food science, chartered surveyors, veterinary and teaching. They offer a different route into work and professional careers that are often perceived as requiring the more traditional, full-time university route which for some, may feel unattainable and out of reach.
Harper Adams University specialises in delivering courses that support the development of food production, processing, animal sciences, engineering, land management and sustainable business. The degree apprenticeships link with these specialisms, offering the programmes below:
There are now incentives for employing apprentices of £3000 or more per new recruit at any age, so it is a good time to bring new talent into the business.
If you would like further information about new programmes or to talk about vacancies we have available for apprenticeship programmes, get in touch with the apprenticeships team: email@example.com .
By Carol Rogers, Apprenticeships Manager