Student debt! I don’t have industry experience! How will I make my first step on the career ladder?
Sound like you? If you are nodding furiously, take a breath and have a tic-tac or two. A degree apprenticeship may be the answer.
WHAT IS A DEGREE APPRENTICESHIP? I hear you scream. Well, before you completely lose your mind, read on for a step-by-step guide to achieving a debt-free, industry designed degree, and planting your foot firmly on the career ladder.
What is a degree apprenticeship?
Degree apprenticeships are aimed at 18 to 19-year-old school leavers as an alternative route into higher education. Apprentices will combine full-time work for an industry leading company with part-time university study. These courses last between one and four years, with a Bachelors or Masters degree waiting at the end.
Degree apprenticeship programmes have been developed through a collaboration between the Tech Partnership and higher education institutions. With government backing, a network of graduate employers and universities have joined forces to train a highly skilled workforce for key industries.
Did I mention that all apprentices are paid? I’ll let David Cameron explain:
“Degree Apprenticeships will give people a great head start, combining a full degree with the real life practical skills gained in work and the financial security of a regular pay packet.” David Cameron, 2015
It almost sounds too good to be true; but remember, politicians always tell the truth.
Why should I do a degree apprenticeship?
The Institute of Fiscal Studies have reported the average student “leaves university with £44k of debt, and no guarantee of job.”
The 2012 hike in student fees has forced school leavers to be shrewder consumers of higher education. A degree apprenticeship has all the benefits of a conventional degree programme, without the financial anxieties. On top of this, degree apprentices are provided with the practical experience and wider employability skills which are crucial to career success.
Degree apprentices achieve a full Bachelors or Masters degree but avoid the colossal debts from tuition fees and maintenance loans.
EARN WHILE YOU LEARN
Degree apprentices are employed throughout the programme, completing paid work from day one.
Jaguar Land Rover’s Engineering Degree Apprenticeship scheme has a starting salary of £18,500 per year, increasing by 10% every 6 months. Apprentices are expected to earn over £35k per year on completion of the course!
Although degree apprenticeships do not guarantee a permanent job, apprentices are highly employable graduates. Building a relationship with an employer over a programme of work and study will open doors into an industry.
Retention rates for apprentices can exceed 80%. (UCAS, 2016)
Employers and professional bodies design the overall programme, so apprentices obtain the specific practical skills which are necessary for a job. Apprentices can move seamlessly from their degree apprenticeship into a skilled profession.
Still interested? Only a madman would click away now. So keep reading to find out which companies and universities are offering degree apprenticeships in 2016/2017.
How do degree apprenticeships work?
The funding for degree apprenticeships is divided between the government and your employer. The government pays two-thirds of your costs and fees, capped at £18,000, while your employer coughs up the rest. Who knew the government could be so generous?
Apprentices will work for a minimum of 30 hours a week for 30 weeks a year. It’s not the get up at midday, watch Cash in the Attic, put on a Sainsbury’s basics toad-in-the-hole and wait for The Chase to begin lifestyle which I became familiar with at university. The government doesn’t fund these pursuits – it costs £9,000 per year for the privilege.
Degree apprentices will be expected to achieve academically while they are in full-time employment.
Below is a breakdown of a Software Engineering degree apprenticeship with Custodian Solutions and the University of Exeter.
Meet Tom. Tom is very excited about his degree apprenticeship.
Tom is working for Custodian Solutions, with structured intervals to attend lectures and complete online classes, in order to gain a BSc Digital and Technology Solutions from the University of Exeter. Tom is developing a technical and professional expertise in IT in a real-life working environment. His degree is tailored to the specific and relevant skills he needs for a career in software engineering.
Tom can barely contain his joy. He is earning a salary of £18,000 and is debt free as his employers are paying for his degree from a Russell Group university.
Watch ‘A Week in the Life of Siobhan Holden’, a degree apprentice at Barclays.
Visit the Tech Partnership to get a full list of the universities currently offering degree apprenticeships.
Which industries are involved?
There are currently 13 degree apprenticeships in different industries on offer. These programmes – and some of the companies supporting them – are listed below:
- Chartered Surveying - Axis, EC Harris & Faithorn Farrell Timms
- Electronic Systems Engineering - ARM, Embescosm & Flexenable
- Aerospace Engineering - Airbus, BAE Systems, Rolls Royce
- Aerospace Software Development - Airbus, BAE Systems, Rolls Royce
- Defence - General Dynamics, Raytheon & Serco
- Laboratory Science - Astra Zeneca, GSK & Pfizer Inc
- Nuclear - EDF Energy, Magnox Ltd, Sellafield
- Power Systems - EDF Energy, Magnox Ltd, Sellafield
- Public Relations - Claremont, Golin & KOR Communications Ltd
- Digital Industries - BT, Fujitsu & Network Rail
- Automotive Engineering - BMW Group UK, Toyota Manufacturing UK & Vauxhall Motors
- Financial Services - Barclays, HSBC & Santander
- Construction - BAM Construct UK Ltd, E-ON Energy Solutions Ltd
Degree Apprenticeships in Engineering
For engineering enthusiasts, there are a wide range of opportunities to work with industry leaders in the field. EDF Energy, Airbus and BMW Group UK are just a handful of the blue-chip companies supporting degree apprenticeships.
No longer will school leavers have to hide in the shrubbery outside factories, with faint hopes of a lax security guard leaving a door unlocked, just to get a peek inside the engineering industry. No more climbing of barbed-wire fences. No more baskets of mini-muffins sent into HR departments, for one day’s work experience making tea at Toyota.
The incentive of a debt-free degree and a salary make degree apprenticeships an alluring prospect for all school leavers seeking higher education. But for students looking for a start in engineering, working with professionals inside the industry is a priceless opportunity.
“70% of employers were very satisfied with apprenticeships because it is ‘the most relevant form of training to their business.” Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, Apprentice Evaluation: employer survey, 2014
There are currently degree apprenticeships established in Electronic Systems Engineering, Aerospace Engineering, Nuclear Engineering and Automotive Engineering.
To find out what working for an engineering company is like, read reviews of engineering apprenticeships on RateMyApprenticeship.
Degree Apprenticeships in Business and Finance
Students are already completing courses in business and finance with various graduate employers and universities.
Anglia Ruskin University have partnered with Barclays, to offer a 3-year BA (Hons) Management & Leadership.
Airbus are delivering a 3-year degree apprenticeship in Finance and Accounting, in partnership with either Bangor University, Swansea University or the University of the West of England
Degree apprenticeships of this kind can cover diverse areas of work and study. It may not be as glamorous as Lord Sugar’s The Apprentice, but full-time employment with an industry leading company will give you a serious grounding in a wide variety of roles:
- Sales or business development
- Customer Service
- Human Resources
- Public Relations
If you’re a real keen bean, you can find a range of reviews of apprenticeships in business, here, and banking & finance, here.
Degree apprenticeships in London
There are six higher education institutions which are offering degree apprenticeships in London.
BPP Business School are providing two programmes, a BBA (Hons) Chartered Management and BSc (Hons) Design and Technology Solutions.
The University of Roehampton are also offering a BSc (Hons) Digital and Technology Solutions, specialising in network engineering, software engineering and data analysis.
Queen Mary University of London are in partnership with Goldman Sachs, GSK, IBM, and have designed an IT Degree Apprenticeship with John Lewis.
The University of West London have introduced three new programmes; a Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship, a Digital and Technology Solutions Manager Degree Apprenticeship, and Healthcare Assistant (Practitioner) Higher Degree Apprenticeship.
The University of Greenwich and Ravensborne College have yet to declare which courses they are launching next year.
Pearson College London provide three degree apprenticeship programmes: a Business Management degree in partnership with the BBC, a Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship, and a Rotational Degree Apprenticeship, which includes professional work experience with three industry leading companies.
Birkbeck, University of London offer two schemes, a Digital and Technology Solutions Degree Apprenticeship and a Chartered Management Degree Apprenticeship.
Degree apprenticeships in the UK
At this point in time, degree apprenticeships are only available in England. But before the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish school leavers start rioting, I should probably mention, you can all still apply!
Degree apprenticeships from English universities are open to applications for school leavers from across the UK.
Keep reading, we’ll go through where to find degree apprenticeships and the varying entry requirements. It would be a terrible time to leave.
Last year, around 1000 students were enrolled on degree apprenticeship programmes. The government has made a pledge to increase the number of apprenticeships starts to 3 million by 2020.
The figure of 3 million refers to all of the apprenticeship standards – intermediate, advanced and higher. However, there is a clear focus on increasing the number of degree apprenticeship starts as part of this plan.
“I talk to large numbers of young people about their career choices, for some people, it’s often a choice between university or an apprenticeship. One great element of Degree apprenticeships is the chance to do both. The opportunity to combine the academic knowledge of a traditional university degree with the practical experience demanded by employers - with a salary and chance to progress.” Sue Husband, Director of the National Apprenticeship Service, Three million quality apprenticeships (speech), 18 March 2016
From April 2017 onwards, employers will have to pay 0.5% of their wage bill to the government if their wage bill exceeds £3 million a year. This has been called The Apprenticeship Levy. The payments will be converted into electronic vouchers, which can be used to purchase apprenticeship training. This levy will positively increase the number of apprentices, as employers are being encouraged to fund the training of their own workforce.
After April 2017, it will be in the interest of employers to take on more apprentices.
Where do I find a degree apprenticeship?
Some applications for degree apprenticeships in 2016/2017 have already closed. No need to panic.
There are a number of places you can look to find programmes with applications still open, or for programmes beginning in the next academic year.
- You can find degree apprenticeships on RateMyApprenticeship!
View degree apprenticeship vacancies
- Visit the government website for apprenticeships
- Alternatively, you can apply through the Tech Partnership
- Or, you can go directly to the sites of employers and their university partners.
The entry requirement s for each degree apprenticeship varies from programme to programme.
Importantly, not all employers are requiring candidates to have A Levels to qualify for applications. Degree apprenticeships are suitable for school leavers who have completed lower level apprenticeships.
Take Fujitsu for example, which are offering a BSc (Hons) Digital and Technological Solutions in partnership with the University of Winchester. For this course, employers have required candidates to have 280 UCAS points. This means candidates with a BTEC qualification, or advanced/higher apprenticeships are eligible for this degree apprenticeship.
Relevant work experience can also be considered by employers if other criteria are not met.
For full entry requirements, it’s best to look at university websites and employer’s recruitment materials. You may be surprised about which degree apprenticeships you are eligible for!
A little recap...
As the sub-heading suggests, it’s time for a little recap. Time for a glass of chocolate-milk and a few deep breaths. Too much good news can be exhausting.
Perhaps this would be the opportune moment to deal with the elephant in the room. There is a stigma attached to apprenticeships. Apprenticeships tend to be associated with trade professions (like plumbing or carpentry) and are generally viewed as less prestigious than a university degree.
However, there is evidence that traditional attitudes towards apprenticeships are changing. CMI commissioned leading research company Populus to survey over 1,000 parents in February 2016, examining their attitudes to new degree apprenticeships and university education. The study showed:
- 61% of parents would prefer to see their child embark on a degree apprenticeship with a leading British employer than an Oxbridge degree.
- 81% of parents think a degree apprenticeship would provide their children with a better chance of getting a job than going to university.
- 78% of parents believed degree apprenticeships were better value for money than a traditional university degree. Even if money were no object, 62% of parents would rather their child did a degree apprenticeship.
- Before the study, only 13% of parents had heard of degree apprenticeships.
Find reviews of degree apprenticeships on RateMyApprenticeship
The Apprenticeship Levy is a sign of the government’s commitment to increasing the number of apprenticeship starts. More and more employers are partnering with higher education institutions to offer degree apprenticeships. Despite the effects of Brexit, climate change and the steady decrease in the number of crisps in Walkers packets – it’s an exciting time for school leavers.
Degree apprenticeships are truly a win-win scenario for students and employers. School leavers have an opportunity to gain a degree while learning practical skills, without having to sell one of their kidneys to pay for it. Employers are being provided with a new, skilled workforce, and can craft the training of future employees.
Pop your head out of the window, school leavers and employers are holding hands and dancing in the street.
This is the perfect time to sign up and build a free, personalised account with RateMyApprenticeship. It is the best place to discover news, new opportunities and reviews of degree apprenticeships.
RateMyApprenticeship has the largest collection of apprenticeship reviews, written by the apprentices themselves. Here is the place to be. So limber up and find a degree apprenticeship, it’s time to land your first foot on the career ladder.
Find degree apprenticeship opportunities on RateMyApprenticeship
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