School leaver programmes vs. Degree Apprenticeships

Both school leaver programmes and Degree Apprenticeships are great alternatives to university, but they offer different advantages to those who complete them. Explore these here to figure out what is the best path for you. 

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On the face of it, school leaver programmes and Degree Apprenticeships could seem fairly similar: workplace experience, high-quality academic qualifications, all paid for by the government and employers. 

Both school leaver programmes and Degree Apprenticeships are great alternatives to university, but they offer different advantages to those who complete them.

Degree Apprenticeships & school leaver programmes: industries

There are now school leaver programmes in all business sectors, from technical, commercial to creative. They are generally with FTSE 100 leading employers – such as EY, IBM and Deloitte – who offer great training programmes and pay good starting salaries.

Degree Apprenticeships on the other hand were launched more recently – in 2015 – so the current range of opportunities is slightly smaller than school leaver programmes, mainly in the digital and software fields.

However, one of the advantages of Degree Apprenticeships has when compared to school leaver programmes is that they have been developed in line with government standards and frameworks – a sign of quality. School leaver programmes are more company-specific.

There are now school leaver programmes in all business sectors, from technical, commercial to creative. They are generally with FTSE 100 leading employers – such as EY, IBM and Deloitte – who offer great training programmes and pay good starting salaries.

Degree Apprenticeships & school leaver programmes: qualifications

School leaver programmes are also, therefore, designed to arm students with the specific professional qualifications they will need to embark on a career at that particular organisation, not necessarily a university degree. For example, on the EY school leaver programme, trainees study towards two professional qualifications: the globally-recognised ICAEW Certificate in Finance and Business (CFAB) followed by a second professional qualification linked to their chosen field — Assurance, Transactions or Tax.

Degree Apprenticeships are more specific in the academic qualifications they offer: bachelors and master’s degrees. The government is working with leading business, university, and college groups to oversee the new programme as it rolls out, including representatives from the CBI, FSB, EEF, Universities UK, University Alliance, Russell Group and the Association of Colleges, so the programmes have often been co-designed with industry experts.

Degree Apprenticeships & school leaver programmes: entry requirements

Both school leaver programmes and Degree Apprenticeships require high calibre candidates, which is reflected in their entry requirements. For example, Mazars’ Accounting School Leaver Programme requires at least 280 UCAS points (achieved in the same academic year, from the student’s best three A-levels and excluding General Studies). Grade B or above in GCSE English Language and Maths. 

BT’s IT Degree Apprenticeship requires three A-levels grades BCC or above, or verified equivalent qualifications. However, some school leaver programmes require just two A-level passes, making them potentially a better option for some candidates than Degree Apprenticeships.

 

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