Learning on the job – are degree apprenticeships the answer?

Learning on the job – are degree apprenticeships the answer?

University degrees ain’t what they used to be. Gone are the days where a privileged few got academic qualifications that left them ill-equipped for the real world and everyone else learned at the University of Life.

Higher education these days goes hand in hand with the demands of businesses of all sizes, and qualifications are increasingly aligned with industry needs. The introduction of degree apprenticeships in the past couple of years aims to go even further in bridging that gap between what employers want and what education institutions offer. The UK Government certainly believes that combining a paid job with training towards a qualification is the best way to meet the needs of both employers and employees and has set a target of three million new apprenticeships to be underway by 2020.

Funding is available to employers that want to pay for apprenticeship training and following the launch of the apprenticeship levy in April this year, 1.3% of the UK’s employers will have to commit to paying into the degree apprenticeship pot.

But can degree apprenticeships really deliver a solution to businesses facing a skills gap, or struggling to retain key employees? Alan Johnston, director of undergraduate studies at York Business School, thinks so.

“Lower level apprenticeships have been around for a long time”, he says. “But the introduction of degree apprenticeships means that employees combining on-the-job training with flexible study can now get a foundation degree, bachelor’s degree or even a masters degree in some sectors.

“For employers who see apprenticeships as an integral part of their talent strategy, degree educated employees can become a vital part of addressing higher level skills gaps. Degree apprenticeships are set to become a fact of life for both businesses and universities so it’s incredibly important that we work together to create a well-qualified workforce.”

A good apprenticeship programme can enable employers to attract employees with potential, enabling them to recruit from a larger pool of talent. Also worth considering is the use of degree apprenticeships as an opportunity to train existing staff in new knowledge and technologies, or to retain high calibre staff who are motivated and engaged.

With this in mind, York Business School at York St John University is developing a range of higher education options, including the chartered manager degree apprenticeship which incorporates a bespoke BA (Hons) in management and leadership and Level 5 diploma in management and leadership. With 63% of employers expecting to need more staff with leadership and management skills in the future, the CMI-accredited courses reflect the knowledge, competence and professional values required for management roles.

Working in partnership is key, and York St John University is well positioned to respond to the needs of businesses that want to shape the direction of the qualifications on offer. Employers committed to responsible business practices will value the university’s ethos of social justice and sense of community and employees will benefit from the student experience on campus: library, sports facilities, students’ union and a range of specialist support.

With a newly-launched business school at the heart of York that offers innovative and responsive opportunities for both students and its business partners and future course options that include qualifications in occupational therapy and computer science, the delivery of degree apprenticeships is well underway.

The door is open for businesses interested in matching their needs to degree courses. Get in touch with York Business School to find out if degree apprenticeships could work for your business and we’ll either arrange a visit to your workplace or look forward to welcoming you to our award-winning campus.

York St John

For more information on chartered management degree apprenticeships contact Alan Johnston, director of undergraduate studies at York Business School, a.johnston@yorksj.ac.uk
For more general enquiries about degree apprenticeships, contact Zoe Wilde, business development coordinator at York St John University, z.wilde@yorksj.ac.uk