Seven things you didn’t know about higher and degree apprenticeships (but should...)
Nearly two thirds of the 16-24 year-olds we spoke with felt they didn't know enough about apprenticeships. If you want to know more, these seven need-to-knows are a good place to start.
1. It's not university or apprenticeships.Three-quarters of those we surveyed said that attending university was their first choice after sixth form or college - but it's worth knowing that gaining a degree qualification is possible through an apprenticeship route, too.
Higher and degree apprenticeships involve your employer partnering with a university to provide training and learning, right up to Master's level. Apprenticeship schemes are approved by the Institute for Apprenticeships to ensure good quality training and assessment.
Have a look at how apprenticeships stack up against other qualifications:
2. In fact, you can apply for both at the same time.
If you're undecided between going to university or applying for an apprenticeship, it's worth knowing that you don't have to decide right away. There's nothing stopping you from applying to university through Ucas while keeping your eye out for interesting apprenticeship vacancies.
Apprenticeship schemes don't follow the same application and deadline patterns as applying to uni - the deadline for your apprenticeship application will be down to individual employers, and you'll apply for them direct. You're not restricted to one apprenticeship application either, if you've seen more than one you're interested in.
Decision time will arrive eventually though - be clear on your next step before committing to firmly accepting a university place.
3. A degree apprenticeship = a fee-free degree.Yes, you heard that right. On a degree apprenticeship programme, you'll be paid by your employer to work while studying towards a degree - meaning you could graduate without paying tuition fees or taking out student loans.
Little wonder that 84% of those surveyed felt that apprenticeships were a good way to learn skills and get work experience without taking on debt.
24-year-old James Gee recently completed a higher and then degree apprenticeship with Capgemini, joining in 2011 as a junior software engineer after being disappointed with his A-level results. He recently graduated with first class honours in a BSc in Digital and Technical Solutions at Aston University:
I’ve achieved a university degree but also worked on my professional skills, been able to travel, and really developed in confidence.
I’ve also been able to buy a car and move to London, whilst many of my friends who went to university are just starting on the career ladder.
When beginning to research available higher and degree apprenticeships, a good place to start is by downloading our factsheet.
4. Digital, banking, health, law, fashion... The number of industries is growing.Nearly half of those we surveyed felt that apprenticeships weren't available in the industry they wanted to get into. But there might be more opportunities than you realise.
Big companies offering higher and degree apprenticeships include ASOS, the BBC, British Airways, Google and TFL, while plans are underway to roll out nursing and teaching apprenticeships. Don't ignore smaller company opportunities either, where there could be even more chance to be exposed to completely new skills and experiences.
Top resources for those who did look for information on apprenticeships included Google, the Apprenticeships.gov.uk website and individual company websites. Teachers, careers advisers, friends and family were also sources of advice. Find out more in our guide to higher and degree apprenticeships.
5. As an apprentice, you've got employee rights.A fifth of those we surveyed thought apprentices aren't eligible to receive the same benefits as other employees, and a further 35% weren't sure. Right? Wrong.
As well as gaining hands-on training and learning as an apprentice, you are also, essentially, a company employee. This means you have the same rights as the rest of the workforce, including pay (of at least the apprenticeship minimum wage), holiday entitlements and other benefits.
6. You're hired!The prospects generally look pretty rosy for those completing apprenticeships.
According to Gov.uk, 77% of apprentices stay with the same employer, 46% received a pay rise and 36% reported getting a promotion.
7. You're in good company.If you decide to take an apprenticeship, you won't be alone. The government aims to recruit three million apprentices by 2020. Famous former apprentices include David Beckham, Jamie Oliver and actor Sir Michael Caine.
The recent apprentices we spoke to are also positive, but realistic, about their choice. Royal Bank of Scotland apprentice Ross Aynsley told us:
James Gee agrees: