Now is an opportunity to increase the availability and desirability of degree level apprenticeships; COVID-19 has greatly affected the 18-23 age group and the Government should seize the opportunity to create new development paths for our future leaders. A degree level apprenticeship offers the advantages of an income from an employer and a degree qualification, alongside avoiding traditional student debt, but how much is the scheme disadvantaged by an outdated view of an ‚’apprentice‚’?
The term ‚’apprentice‚’ spans a school leaver learning a skills-based trade, to somebody studying for a Masters degree, through to somebody in a loud suit on a popular BBC programme. It could be argued that the two extremes, the school leaver and the suited CEO-wannabe, overshadow the paid path to an Bachelors degree. A simple rebrand is unlikely to be sufficient; rather it is preferable to take a holistic view and work with prospective apprentices, employers and academic institutions to increase awareness of this viable development path.
COVID-19 has caused a shrinkage in the job market for 18-23-year olds, and parents find themselves concerned by the security of their own employment (and thus less able to support their children‚’s continued studies). This could reverse the progress seen by the ONS; in November 2020 they noted ‚’there were an estimated 757,000 young people (aged 16 to 24 years) in the UK who were not in education, employment or training (NEET) ‚’ a record low‚’. The opportunity to increase the uptake of degree level apprenticeships will support improving this important metric – if the options and benefits were more widely understood there would be a corresponding increase in demand and uptake.