90% of apprentices in England stayed on in employment after completing their qualification; 71% with the same employer (so says the Government). That's great news, but if you're considering degree-level apprenticeships at a college or a university (yes really), you'll need to know the realities of them. In short, they are just like level 3 (advanced) apprenticeships: quality of skills on offer, healthy balance between course/work, wage paid and no guarantee of a full-time job at the end of the course.
There's 3 other factors that are huge, which the company funding the apprenticeship will rarely mention, particularly for apprenticeships at degree level: the brutal level of competition, the ease of access from you geographically, and most importantly of all: your genuine level of passion for what they offer (a mix of your curiosity, attitude, what you want from life, and your motivation).
Firstly the facts about higher apprenticeships and degree level apprenticeships: both are qualifications funded by a mix of an employer (ranging from mahoosive global companies to smaller UK companies far away or on your doorstep) and the UK government. They are 'earn while you learn', with higher and degree apprenticeships paying more, on average, than Level 3 (advanced) apprenticeships. Also, they pay higher wages, on average. The key thing to remember is that they all, by law, pay you a wage and cover most of your course fees (often all). People who study apprenticeships are more likely to stay close to where they live, as oppose to those studying full-time degrees...but not always. There are 1,000s of apprenticeship vacancies, run by 100s of different companies: and as we always so at Push "no 2 things are ever the same. The biggest different in your future is you, so it is important to find something that matches all your needs".
So what happens if you decide to go down the route of a degree-level 'earn while you learn' journey for the next 1-6 years of your life?
As with everyday life, nothing is ever as good in reality as it is on paper: you will most likely have a lot less 'free' time than a regular undergraduate student: all those long holidays (the average degree in the UK contains only 24 weeks' contact/teaching time per academic year) that would usually be filled with volunteering, part-time work, Netflix binges, festivals and the occasional existential crisis over the transition to a career after graduation, will instead be filled on a degree apprenticeship (or higher apprenticeship) with employment in the company which is funding your university/HE college studies. It isn't a bad trade: it is guaranteed (paid) work experience, and prepares you nicely for the actual real life ratio of holidays-to-work, which you should be aiming to get used to anyway...at least by the time you're halfway through any degree journey.
One final thing to note: higher and degree apprenticeships are a really good way of understanding where the skills gaps are in the UK, for the coming 10-15 years...as most at this level have been specifically created to meet the workforce needs of the UK's future...so do have a really good scan through the vacancies. There are lots, so grab your biggest Sports Direct mug and hit the couch with your laptop: there are approx. 350 colleges that potentially run higher apprenticeships in collaboration with local/big employers. Go explore some higher (degree-level) apprenticeships, we'd recommend you start here.
Regarding degree apprenticeships, there are over 30 (of the 160) UK universities now running courses in these...with the number of unis getting on board ever-expanding. Degree apprenticeship courses are extremely competitive, as they cover all your tuition fees as well as a wage for you, and they range in anything from IT & Digital Technology to Surveying & Construction. Our friends over at The Scholarship Hub have put a great list together here. To continue exploring degree apprenticeships, we'd recommend you head over to UCAS's great starting guide here.
For an example of just how much some universities are investing in degree apprenticeships (and how they interlink their course with local employers), in 2018 Sheffield Hallam University received £500k funding to create a Centre for Excellence for Degree Apprenticeships. This will provide specific high quality learning for apprentices looking to earn a degree alongside apprenticeship-style practical experience. Sheffield Hallam is already a leading institution for degree apprenticeships, but this extra dedicated funding will offer a huge boost. The university's partners in the area currently include Wipro, Barnsley Met Borough Council, Sheffield Forgemasters, Tonic Works and L&P Springs, but the list is ever-increasing. The uni has taken on 380 degree apprentices since it began offering the combination course. It reportedly hopes to increase this figure to over 500 by the end of the academic year. The new funding will help Sheffield Hallam to reach a new goal of 750 degree apprentices enrolled by 2019, and 2,250 by 2021.
Of course, a great place to get the most independent and informed advice is on our student zone's apprenticeships page, as well as our youtube channel.
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