Press release

PM announces rollout of flagship degree apprenticeships

David Cameron will today announce new degree apprenticeships in areas such as chartered surveying, aerospace engineering and nuclear.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

PM speaks to apprentices at BAE Systems in Lancashire

The Prime Minister will be in Lancashire today to announce plans to rollout degree apprenticeships, building on the government’s highly successful apprenticeship programme.

The number of apprenticeship starts has doubled this Parliament to over 2 million, with more starting in the north west than in any other region – over 350,000 since May 2010. This morning the PM will outline how the government is going further, by announcing the rollout of 9 new degree apprenticeships designed by industry, including key areas such as chartered surveying, aerospace engineering, and nuclear, as a flagship new part of the apprenticeships programme.

Groups of businesses, universities and colleges will come together to develop practical degree courses which will allow people to combine the academic knowledge from a traditional university degree and the practical experience that are both vital for success in the labour market.

Apprentices will split their time between normal university study and gain a full bachelor’s or master’s degree from a top university while earning a wage and getting real on-the-job experience in their chosen profession.

Degree apprenticeships are co-designed by employers to boost the employment prospects of apprentices. In some cases they will also lead to professional registration or chartered status with a relevant professional body.

The apprentice will be able to gain a full bachelor’s or master’s degree without paying any fees as the cost of course fees are shared between government and employers. Not only will the new qualifications be suitable for school leavers, they will also raise the status of vocational routes of study and be suitable for existing apprentices who want to progress in their careers.

Employers and universities have backed this innovative new model, with over 100 companies working with over 20 universities and several colleges across the country to develop the programme so far. 70 universities have expressed an interest in offering degree apprenticeships in the future. The new degree apprenticeships are expected to be suitable for both small and large businesses, and SMEs involved in the programme so far have said that it will give them better access to graduate-level talent.

The government is forming a board of 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, University Vocational Awards Council and the Association of Colleges.

Prime Minister David Cameron said:

Equipping people with the skills they need to get on in life and backing businesses to create jobs are key parts of our long-term economic plan. Degree apprenticeships will give people a great head start, combining a full degree with the real practical skills gained in work and the financial security of a regular pay packet. They will bring the world of business and the world of education closer together, and let us build the high-level technical skills needed for the jobs of the future. I want to see many more businesses and universities begin to offer them.

Terry Scuoler, Chief Executive of EEF said:

Fast-moving, evolving sectors such as manufacturing increasingly demand higher-level skills. These economically valuable industries can only grow and prosper if highly-skilled employees are there for the taking.

There has been a noticeable gap in higher-level provision that combines both vocational and academic learning, and degree apprenticeships are the opportunity to fill this gap. For employers and learners alike, Degree apprenticeships are a good step forward. Learners earn while they learn to a degree level and employers have access to relevant, responsive, highly-skilled employees.

This is an opportunity not to be missed and we urge employers to step up to the plate and work with us to shape this agenda.

Maddalaine Ansell, Chief Executive of University Alliance, said:

We welcome the introduction of degree apprenticeships. They will offer young people another accessible and attractive way to unlock their talent, and ensure the UK has the high-skilled workforce it needs to drive growth and innovation in our economy.

Alliance universities, which have a particular focus on delivering excellent courses in partnership with industry and the professions, are well placed to help develop and implement degree apprenticeships due to their strengths in subject areas closely linked to the needs of the economy such as engineering, design and digital industries. Working effectively with partners is part of our universities’ DNA and we have dynamic and strong relationships with a wide range of education providers and employers. University Alliance is committed to playing an active role in developing and delivering degree apprenticeships.

Howard Simms, Founder of Apadmi, an SME taking part in the degree apprenticeship in digital said:

Degree apprenticeships are an excellent initiative. From a small employer’s viewpoint they provide access to bright, keen talent at an earlier age. From a student’s viewpoint they will gain a degree, learn skills directly relevant to employment, and avoid significant debt, as they will be earning a wage. It’s a win-win scenario.

Notes to editors

  • The 9 degree apprenticeships being announced today are in chartered surveying, electronic systems engineering, aerospace engineering, aerospace software development, defence systems engineering, laboratory science, nuclear; power engineering and public relations. Places will be available from this September. Places are also being advertised for starts this September on the degree apprenticeships on offer in digital, automotive engineering, banking relationship management and construction.

  • Degree apprenticeships will follow the apprenticeship trailblazer funding model which government is currently trialling. As part of this trial, government is contributing two thirds of the total cost of the degree course and any external training and assessment, up to a cap, with employers contributing the other third; then there is an additional incentive for small businesses. As with other apprenticeships, apprentices themselves do not pay for training costs or student fees.

  • The government contribution to the cost of degree apprenticeships will be met from the apprenticeships budget.

  • Alongside the new degree apprenticeships, BIS is also publishing 49 other new apprenticeship standards today, developed by over 500 employers, in occupations including healthcare assistant practitioner, rail engineering technician, and chef. This round of ‘trailblazers’ are the latest addition to more than 80 trailblazer standards that have already been defined. They are part of the government’s plan to improve the quality of apprenticeships and put employers in the driving seat.

Published 11 March 2015