By Liz Gorb, Director of Apprenticeships at Manchester Metropolitan University, Sharon Blyfield, Head of Early Careers at Coca-Cola Europacific Partners, and Clare Marchant, UCAS Chief Executive
Since the introduction of degree apprenticeships in 2015, student interest in these programmes has skyrocketed and it’s easy to see why – with students able to work, earn and learn all at the same time. This not only puts them in a strong position when entering the job market but means they are well placed to climb the ladder within an organisation, as is evidenced by the 30% of senior managers at Rolls Royce that started as apprentices. This strength of interest is reflected in new UCAS data, which shows that almost half of students registering with UCAS – about 425,000 – are interested in learning more about apprenticeships. Despite this, only 37,800 people started a degree apprenticeship in 2021-22, with this figure being even lower for those aged 18-24, at only 2,480. This presents two challenges – increasing the supply of degree apprenticeships and helping learners, especially younger learners, access this pathway. It is key that growing interest and ambition of students is matched with a supply of opportunities, which is why Education Secretary Gillian Keegan’s announcement that apprenticeships will be boosted under plans to broaden UCAS represent a major transformation. Under the new plans, students will be able to discover, decide and apply for any apprenticeship opportunities alongside undergraduate courses all in one place, through UCAS Hub from 2024. And the opportunities aren’t just limited to students – degree apprenticeships offer significant benefits to universities and employers too. UCAS is aiming to create greater visibility of these high-quality partnerships, while helping universities and employers attract the best future talent.