Degree apprenticeships are a radical and innovative addition to the more traditional apprenticeship offering.
Universities have been able to leverage their enormous experience in teaching and research to higher-level vocational learning. The benefits go beyond underrepresented individuals being able to work and learn without incurring enormous debt. In many ways, degree apprenticeships have created significant shifts in pedagogy, and potentially open up conventionally elite subjects to a much wider cross-section of society.
Yet universities are facing significant challenges when it comes to degree apprenticeships, as they have increasingly come under pressure from press and policymakers alike. Inevitably, ongoing debate over standards like Senior Leader, to name one, have prompted some fear that government will seek to de-mandate more degrees from higher-level apprenticeship as it questions both the cost and value of the degree to skills training. Indeed, the consultation outcome appears to suggest a shift in direction change of emphasis from IfATE. We will look at this policy change in section two.
In this white paper, we look at the history and rationale of the mandated qualification in degree apprenticeships, the competing pressure on them with regard to integration (both in terms of integration of the qualification and the end point assessment/EPA), and the three reasons why mandated qualifications matter: productivity, transferrable skills and occupational mobility. As we examine these core rationales, we will also consider instances where degrees may not need to be mandated, such as when higher-level professions do not require a degree to access them.