Degree apprenticeships: what are they and how do you get one?
As National Apprenticeship Week begins, QA Education works with teen magazine Future Mag to find out about the new degree apprenticeships and how you go about getting one...
Degree apprenticeships – what are they and how can you get one?
On paper they make perfect sense. Degree apprenticeships are just that – a university degree and apprenticeship rolled into one – most are level 6 (bachelor’s) with a few leading to 7 (master’s).
Apprentices are hired by a company, paid a salary and study part time at a university - all fees are covered by the government and employer. Companies have worked with universities to design the degrees, which combine chunks of study time at university, practical experience at work – a minimum of 30 hours a week with 20 per cent of time spent learning off the job. You emerge with a degree, pay rises along the way, no debt and high chance of ongoing employment.
What’s the difference between degree and higher apprenticeships?
Degree apprenticeships lead to a bachelor’s degree (level 6) or occasionally master’s degree (level 7). Higher apprenticeships begin at level 4 and can lead to a range of qualifications including a foundation degree.
How long do they last?
They usually last three to four years though they can be as long as six, with the working week mostly split between four days at work and a day at a university or college, though this can vary. Sometimes degree apprentices spend a week at university every month, or sometimes study flexibly online.
Degree apprenticeships can be offered by smaller companies as well as global firms
Where can I find vacancies?
They’re very new, so vacancies are in the low thousands, though the number of schemes has risen 50% in the last year. You can apply for alerts at gov.uk/apply-apprenticeship, though people often find the government website Find an Apprenticeship difficult to use. Some colleges pay for more user friendly software to find vacancies, so it may be worth asking a careers adviser for help. Or you can sign up for regular vacancy updates from amazingapprenticeships.com. If you’re after a certain employer, check the website – the likes of Rolls-Royce, GlaxoSmithKline, Boots and BAE Systems all offer degree apprenticeships, as do professional services firms including KPMG, PwC, EY and many smaller companies too. Ucas’s new career finder service (careerfinder.ucas.com) also advertises vacancies, and you can search on The Student Room too.
How many can I apply for?
There’s no limit to how many you apply for. You can also apply to university at the same time as a back-up. Smaller companies might have an informal application procedure but larger businesses might have assessment and interview stages.
When should I apply?
Unlike university applications, there’s no fixed deadline, though many are advertised around and after the summer. Some schemes close when they’re full, so it’s best to apply early.
What do they pay?
Top schemes at larger companies can start at nearly £22,000 a year for business and professional services degree apprenticeships. Some employers advertise a “competitive” salary - which means pay will be in line with similar roles in other organisations.
What subjects can you do?
You won’t find degree apprenticeships in “pure” academic areas such as physics or history – they’re mostly specialist and vocational – but more subjects are creeping in. In autumn the government announced a whole raft of new schemes due to launch in September 2018. (((See box))) New qualifications have been designed with existing skills shortages in mind, not least cyber skills and engineering.
Some prestigious companies are already on board, from Unilever through to Jaguar Land Rover and KPMG, and more universities are signing up – from Newcastle to Brighton to Southampton Solent – some 63 in total plan to be involved by September 2018.
Traditional areas of engineering and construction have dominated current apprenticeships since the introduction of an employer levy in April 2017. Currently the two most popular degree apprenticeships are in the relatively new vocational areas of digital skills and management. Some 40 per cent of leading employers plan to or already offer a digital and technology solutions professionals degree apprenticeship, and 29 per cent plan to or already offer the chartered manager degree apprenticeship. Other public sector degree apprenticeships will expand in 2018 in areas such as policing and health.
What qualifications do I need?
These vary among employers, with some asking high grades at A level. Careers advisers warn that the top schemes are as competitive as elite universities – some 3,000 applicants applied recently for 80 degree apprenticeships with a multinational company.