Degree Apprenticeships – A viable option for students?

Updated: Jun 7

Are you currently in sixth form? Have you considered an alternative to the traditional 3 or 4 year degree programme? A degree apprenticeship may be an option for you.

An apprenticeship combines paid work and training with part-time study. It is an alternative path to going to university that offers the same career destinations but avoids the expensive fees.

University is the right path for some people because it offers the chance to study an interesting subject in detail and gain a valuable degree that opens career options. University can also be a once in a lifetime experience, filled with opportunities for getting involved in new things and meeting life-long friends. On the other hand an apprenticeship offers a more direct path to those same career options, without the cost of going to university. Apprenticeships are also perfect for people who are not keen on more full-time study after completing their A-levels and want to kick-start their careers.

5 Benefits Of Degree Apprenticeships For High School Students

  • You won't need to pay tuition fees. You will graduate without any student-fee debt.

  • You will earn a living while you learn, and develop your skills.

  • The knowledge you acquire will be practical and applied.

  • You will be well-placed in the job market. You will learn skills that are directly relevant to a particular career, and gain work experience in that area. With degree apprenticeships, your degree will be viewed as the equal of a degree earned through traditional routes into higher education, and will be recognised by other employers.

  • Your prospects are good. 30 per cent of senior managers at Rolls Royce started out at the company as apprentices.

(Office for Students, 2021)

It is indeed wonderful to learn about the possibility of acquiring an education with zero student debt. Degree apprenticeships are changing the way traditional higher education is offered. They were first introduced in 2015 to provide students with a university level qualification and employment experience while allowing them to share the cost of their education with employers. They move beyond the old-style ‘higher apprenticeships’ by making a university degree a core part of the apprenticeship experience. They are also designed to meet employer demand for skills that they currently feel many graduates are lacking in. Learners who choose this method are well equipped to progress from vocational roles into management.

Since their foundation, the types of degree apprenticeships on offer have evolved away from mainly STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects and towards legal, consultancy and risk analysis courses. Apprenticeships guarantee the best of both worlds. One can earn while still studying. An apprentice acquires fundamental knowledge, skills, and experience needed for the particular career since it is a hands-on experience. An apprentice is equipped with the necessary experience to climb up the ladder in the job market. Additionally, degree apprenticeships enable individuals to increase their earning potential since it is progressive.

People who prefer diving right into the job market after high school graduation are advantaged with this learning format. Degree apprenticeships facilitate the acquisition of skills such as management and leadership, which broadly boost efficiency, digital skills, which are highly needed, and engineering. From an employer's perspective, the degree offers similar status in the job market alongside graduates. It provides employers with an assurance of quality and equips apprentices with an internationally recognized qualification. Although degree apprenticeships are rapidly growing, there is still much to do to ensure more people recognize the great value of acquiring apprenticeships (universities, 2021).

Apprenticeships address significant skills shortages boosting employment opportunities and growing the economy tremendously. Employers are therefore optimistic about the vital role the apprentices play in their organization. However, to analyze the success of degree apprenticeship, it is imperative to consider these three aspects: the employers, apprentices, and companies in charge of the apprenticeship system. Employees are best suited to recognize the skills and quality of service required.

The result of a recent study performed to assess degree apprenticeship success on the job market displayed the great satisfaction the trainees achieved from acquiring knowledge and vocational skills that they obtained during the degree apprenticeship. The trainees involved in the study also appreciated the training environment (Brinia et al., 2018).

Do you think this could be an option for you? Are you looking to apply for a degree apprenticeship in the UK? Do not get left behind. Most organizations start recruiting at the beginning of the year for an August or September commencement. It is about time to embrace degree apprenticeship, as its benefits are numerous. As a career practitioner, I feel that more effort needs to be made to ensure information gets to the young people worldwide on the array of opportunities out there for them and I will continue to work at empowering our youth with the information they need to succeed.


Brina, V., Stavropoulos, P. and Athanasoula-Reppa, A., 2018. Trainees' perception of vocational training institutes degree apprenticeship: An empirical approach. Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning.

Office for students, 2021. Degree Apprenticeships – a guide for apprentices [online]

Positive action., 2021. What is Career Education? A Complete Overview. [online]

Universities 2021.

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