There’s a fair amount of anecdotal evidence around about why people choose to do degree apprenticeships. Much of this is reflected in the information and advice for prospective apprentices that’s out there: you can earn and learn while gaining a qualification; they’re a path to a long-term career; they help you develop transferable skills; you don’t have to pay tuition fees.

To date, though, there’s been no systematic attempt to examine why people opt for degree apprenticeships.

Why should this matter? Because a more comprehensive, evidence-based understanding will help all of us working in this relatively new area of higher education to shape future policy and communications, and to refine the degree apprenticeships offer to meet the needs of apprentices and employers.

The government has asked the Office for Students (OfS) and the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education to work together to encourage the growth of degree apprenticeships as a means of widening access to higher education for underrepresented groups of people. To do this, we include degree apprenticeships in our targets and investment. We are also engaging with other regulators to remove barriers to delivering this provision.

Building the evidence base

The report we’ve published today, by Wavehill research, is a valuable first step to improving our understanding about why people opt for degree apprenticeships. Nearly 270 current degree apprentices were asked a range of questions about how and why they decided to pursue a degree apprenticeship.

The survey found:
•For the vast majority of respondents (92 per cent), the top motivating factor for choosing a degree apprenticeship was getting a degree alongside earning a salary.
•Cost emerges as a significant factor across a range of responses: both the chance to ‘earn while you learn’ and the attraction of completing the course with no student loan repayments to make.
•Around 38 percent of respondents undertaking Level 6 apprenticeships would have opted to do a ‘traditional’ degree had they not chosen to do a degree apprenticeship. This suggests that degree apprenticeships are seen by some as an alternative to traditional higher education degrees.
•A quarter of respondents surveyed said they would not have pursued any other form of qualification or training had it not been for the degree apprenticeship offer.
•Ninety percent of Level 6 and 78 percent of Level 7 respondents tend to agree or strongly agree that a degree apprenticeship will help them advance more quickly in their career than a traditional degree, and roughly the same proportions think their degree apprenticeships will aid them in the roles they expect to occupy in their career.
•Motivations for undertaking and completing a degree apprenticeship vary markedly between Level 6 and Level 7 respondents.
•Age is a key variable affecting motivation, with older respondents citing factors such as retraining to keep pace with labour market skill levels, and younger respondents typically describing their degree apprenticeship as a way to kick-start their careers.

The report emphasises the essential role employers play, not only by supporting delivery of the degree apprenticeships, but also in helping to raise awareness of degree apprenticeships.

It also highlights the potential effect of negative perceptions of apprenticeships, which portray them as inferior in some way to traditional university degrees. The report emphasises the need to address this through provision of information and cultural change.

To read the full and original article visit Office for Students website.

Back to all of our news