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Webinar: The future of UCAS apprenticeships

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We were delighted to collaborate with UCAS to deliver a webinar covering UCAS’s transformative plans for the apprenticeship sector.

Delivered by guest speaker, Pete Milsom, UCAS Partnership Manager, the session showcased UCAS’s vision to provide parity to apprenticeships by creating one consolidated place for people to discover and access higher education and apprenticeship options.

Now available to watch on demand, this is an essential watch for all those involved in the provision of apprenticeships at all levels and across HE, FE, Independent Training Providers, and Employers.

This webinar covers

  • ‘Journey to a million’ apprenticeship research from UCAS.
  • The work UCAS are doing to open up greater choices for young people.
  • UCAS’s apprenticeship roadmap and future plans.
  • How UCAS can support employers and providers in recruiting the right talent for their apprenticeship vacancies.
  • UCAS & Aptem.

Q&A 

We covered as many questions as we could during the webinar. However, additional (and popular) questions people asked have been answered by Pete Milsom here.

Application process

Q: How will applications work? Specifically, data collection from applications (to populate ILR)

In phase one, Autumn 2024, a CV will be built based on the user’s profile information entered to set up their UCAS Hub account. The CV can be downloaded and used in apprenticeship applications. In subsequent years, the data connection will be taken online, enabling the CV to be sent from UCAS directly to employers that have opted into the service. Gathering data for the ILR is not part of the current plans, but I would not rule it out for future iterations.

Q: Will the UCAS apprenticeship applications be interfaced through to universities in the same way as undergraduate applications to the student records systems (e.g. Tribal SITS)

No, not in the same way. The connection will be to the employer. Future iterations will enable interoperability with employer ATS systems. Connecting to learner management systems is certainly something we are very interested in looking at, though, and that’s why working with critical friends like Aptem is so important to our work.

Q: Will UCAS develop an Apprenticeship UCAS application form like our Higher Education instituation (HEI) Full-time applications?

The service will be separate from the university admissions service, but certain features are likely to be shared. Employers and students will opt-in to use the service.

Employer engagement

Q: Where do you see UCAS helping to drive change with employers? Influencing and changing myths. It’s like having an empty shop window for students without employers on board.

Our goal is to provide the best guidance possible to students so they can make the best-informed decisions about their next steps in education, and apprenticeship IAG has to be part of this goal. We are aware of the challenges of people being able to access high-quality apprenticeship opportunities equally across the UK, and we are investing in research, employer engagement and partnerships to help solve this, as it’s not a problem that UCAS can feasibly solve on its own, but we definitely have a part to play.

Q: How does all of this benefit those employers / providers who do not have vacancies and are upskilling current staff members?

Whilst not our audience historically, career changers can access UCAS IAG and services.

Training provider engagement

Q: How best can training providers advertise their apprenticeship opportunities with UCAS?

Start here, and hit the ‘contact us’ button to get in touch with one of our team: Recruit new talent | Business | UCAS

Timelines

Q: UCAS presented at the AAC last year as well as this. Last year you said the points would be ready for last Christmas. Will they really be ready for this September?

The signs are encouraging. A public consultation will be released in mid-April/May. We have overcome many of the challenges from previous attempts, so we are very hopeful that we will achieve the September goal.

Strategy

Q: It is really interesting, but also quite challenging – for example, different organisations in this area already, e.g. Amazing Apprenticeships, which provide excellent information and advice. Also, the range of students looking for apprenticeships from age 16 are looking for level 2 and above. The range of employers is from very small businesses to large corporations. How you work with all the different FE Colleges and Training Providers to bring this together. How this all fits in with the ‘Find an apprenticeship’ service, for example.

All the great organisations listed and others do indeed provide excellent information already, and we work closely with many of them. However, with 1.5 million people already signing up for a UCAS Hub account to access trusted information, and 440,000 of them expressing interest in apprenticeships, UCAS is uniquely positioned to provide advice on apprenticeships alongside university advice. UCAS is committed to guiding people to make the best-informed decisions possible for their next step in education, so bringing apprenticeships to our platform can help thousands.

Q: I am keen to understand why UCAS points are used as entry criteria for degree apprenticeships. Isn’t the whole idea of apprenticeships to widen participation and access for those who cannot access traditional direct entry routes?

It is, and universities that deliver degree apprenticeships will have their own entry criteria that differ amongst institutions. UCAS doesn’t have a remit to mandate admissions criteria to universities, but it is hoped that attaching tariff points to Level 3 apprenticeships will help them make more sense of them in the context of other Level 3 qualifications such as T Levels and A Levels. This is true of undergraduate courses and degree apprenticeships.

Q: Since every process begins with employers, how will UCAS work with UCAS timelines if it becomes an application Hub?

We would encourage employers to advertise their apprenticeship vacancies early on in the academic year so that students can have more security when they leave school. However, we realise that employers must advertise based on needs and circumstances so people can come to UCAS at any time of year to find apprenticeship opportunities. There won’t be any restrictions on apprenticeship timelines like there are for university admissions.

Q: Will opportunities be offered for all apprenticeships, or just higher and degree apprenticeships?

All levels, 2 – 7, no exclusions.

Do you think that imbalance in perceptions between university & apprenticeships comes from government & school statistics/measures of success being heavily weighted towards A Level results and students attending university as a destination? How do you believe we can change this?

Yes, I think that’s part of it. I couldn’t advocate for one particular solution, but mandatory destination reporting on apprenticeships might be around the top of my list!

Q: A high proportion of the parents I have talked to with regards to apprenticeships have said that apprenticeships really attract them, but as parents of an 18-year-old they are really nervous about their child at 18, moving to a new area, with no accommodation and the wrap-around support undergraduates get. Nor are there funding routes to support providers/employers to support this. What work is UCAS doing to deal with this significant barrier?

Watch this space; we have some upcoming research and recommendations on how to address exactly this. There is certainly more to do, however.

Q: Would Degree Apprenticeships become one of the five options or over and above?

No, people can and will be able to apply for five universities and as many apprenticeships as they wish to at the same time.

Access the presentation slides here


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