What is a Degree Apprenticeship?

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What is a degree?

Degree Apprenticeships are the latest model of apprenticeship to be developed, seeing apprentices achieving a full bachelor’s or master’s degree (Levels 6 and 7) as a core component of the apprenticeship. Both Higher and Degree Apprenticeships must last a minimum of one year, with Degree Apprenticeships in particular lasting longer, typically up to four years but sometimes five, though there is no fixed maximum duration for a Degree Apprenticeship.

Degree Apprenticeships were announced in 2015 with the roll out of nine new industry designed apprenticeships: a new model bringing together higher and vocational education. Degree Apprenticeships are created and tailored by experts from the industry offering them – groups of businesses work with universities and colleges to develop practical, vocational degree courses that allow people to combine both the academic study from a traditional university degree and the practical experience and wider employment skills vital for career success.

During the programmes, degree apprentices split their time between university study and the workplace and are employed throughout – gaining a full degree while earning a wage and getting real on-the-job experience in their chosen profession.

Higher Apprentices are already able study to degree level as part of their apprenticeship, but sometimes only do the equivalent of a year at university, for example. Degree Apprenticeships go further: they always involve a full degree as an integral part of the apprenticeship, co-designed by employers to make sure it is relevant for the skills industry is looking for.

As with other apprenticeships, the cost of course fees for Degree Apprenticeships are shared between government and employers, meaning that the apprentice can earn a full degree without paying any fees.

As well as being suitable for school leavers as an alternative route to gaining a degree, the new Degree Apprenticeship qualifications are expected to strengthen vocational pathways and be suitable for existing apprentices looking to progress in their career. Check out the articles in this section to learn more about Degree Apprenticeships.

Higher Apprenticeships and the new Degree Apprenticeships are part of the same ‘apprenticeships family’. However, there are some differences.

 ‘Higher Apprenticeship’ refers to all apprenticeships that include the achievement of academic/vocational qualifications from Level 4 up to bachelor’s and master’s degree at level 6-7. All levels can include vocational qualifications and academic qualifications.

Degree Apprenticeships are the latest model to be developed as part of higher apprenticeship standards, seeing apprentices achieving a full bachelor’s or master’s degree (Levels 6 and 7) as a core component of the apprenticeship.

Both Higher and Degree Apprenticeships must last a minimum of one year; Degree Apprenticeships in particular will last longer, typically up to four years, though there is no fixed maximum duration.

Neither Higher nor Degree Apprentices are eligible for student loans.

Degree Apprenticeships offer the highest academic attainment – bachelor’s or master’s degrees – without the associated student debt, as well as workplace experience that will set apprentices apart from their peers on standard degree courses.

As with other apprenticeships, the cost of course fees are shared between government and employers, meaning that the apprentice can earn a full bachelors or even masters degree without paying any fees.

Degree Apprentices split their time between university study and the workplace and will be employed throughout – gaining a full bachelor’s or master’s degree while earning a wage and getting real on-the-job experience in their chosen profession.

Degree Apprenticeships are especially useful as they are designed with the industry’s needs in mind. Groups of businesses, universities and colleges develop practical, vocational degree courses that allow students to build up skills and experience relevant to that particular industry, making them very employable in the future.

Another advantage of a Degree Apprenticeship is the working relationships apprentices forge with their employees and colleagues, developing the so-called ‘soft skills’ – effective teamwork, communications, negotiating skills, ability to work under pressure, problem-solving – that employers so desperately want in young recruits.

These are often what people say standard graduates are missing, despite their academic credentials, so a Degree Apprenticeship can arm you with a desirable, and quite rare, skills set alongside a university qualification.

Degree Apprenticeships are relatively new – they were launched in 2015 – but are already being embraced by high profile employers in various industries, and new programmes are being announced all the time.

In 2015, Degree Apprenticeships were launched in the digital and software fields, offering the highest academic attainment – bachelor’s or master’s degrees – without the associated student debt. The first nine Degree Apprenticeships were announced in:

·       Chartered surveying

·       Electronic systems engineering

·       Aerospace Engineering

·       Aerospace software development

·       Defence systems engineering

·       Laboratory science

·       Nuclear

·       Power systems

·       Public relations

Employers already involved include Accenture, BT, Capgemini, Ford, Fujitsu, GlaxoSmithKline, HM Revenue and Customs, Hewlett Packard, IBM, John Lewis, Lloyds Banking Group, Network Rail and Tata Consulting Services.

The government has also formed a board of leading business, university, and college groups to oversee the new Degree Apprenticeship programme, including representatives from the CBI, FSB, EEF, Universities UK, University Alliance, Russell Group and the Association of Colleges.

There are now also Degree Apprenticeships on offer in the following industries:

The Construction, Planning and the Built Environment industry, with apprentices taking roles in construction management.

The Arts, Media and Publishing industry, with apprentices working in broadcast technology.

Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies, with apprentices taking on professional aviation pilot practice roles.

If you want to do a Degree Apprenticeship in an industry that is not listed here, keep an eye on our Degree Apprenticeship jobs board – new programmes are being developed and announced all the time, so you’re bound to find one that works for you.

What are the best degrees to get?

It could also be argued that the best degree to get is one in a subject that you enjoy and will keep your interest – you will need to maintain enthusiasm for at least three years! That said, there are some generally high-performing degree subjects that overall produce graduates that go on to earn top salaries in high profile positions.

Obviously all jobs will require different qualifications, so the best way to figure out the most productive way to spend your time at university is looking at the specifications on the types of job you will want to apply for in the future, and taking a degree that fits those careers.

It’s not worth taking maths, for example, if you know that you want to be a marine biologist, but here are the subjects that attract the highest salaries, if that’s the measure by which you want to select a degree.

Here are some of the best degrees to get in terms of average pay and jobs you can expect after graduating:

Civil Engineering

Average pay: £44,851

Jobs you can get: Civil engineer, surveyor, site engineer, structural engineer, environmental consultant.

Engineering

Average pay: £42,837

Jobs you can get: Aerospace, defence, automotive, chemical, and construction engineer; patent officer; management consulting.

Accounting

Average pay: £42,404

Jobs you can get: Accountant, management trainee, actuary.

Computer science

Average pay: £41,950

Jobs you can get: Developer, systems administrator, IT consultant.

Economics

Average pay: £41,144

Jobs you can get: Economist, banker, financial analyst, statistician. 

Finance

Average pay: £40,908

Jobs you can get: Accountant, banker, financial analyst.

Architecture

Average pay: £40,788

Jobs you can get: Architect, interior designer.

Science

Average pay: £40,409

Jobs you can get: Pharmaceuticals industry, chemical engineering, finance.

Mechanical engineering

Average pay: £39,106

Jobs you can get: Aerospace, defence, automotive, and construction engineer.

Maths

Average pay: £39,01

Jobs you can get: Finance worker, accountant, banker, academic, statistician.

It’s worth remembering that plenty of the careers above are accessible via school leaver programmes and apprenticeships; so you can side-step the student debt and get paid while you train.

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