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Let’s imagine a student, a university, an employer and the British Government all wanting to boost employment in the UK. What type of four-part formula could deliver the best possible outcome for all the constants of the equation? The answer seems to lie in the degree Apprenticeships that, as recent surveys indicate, are in for a dramatic rise over the next three years.

What are degree apprenticeships in UK Universities?

Apprenticeships constitute the key component of some of the most successful skills systems across the world. Launched in September 2015, they are a new and exciting opportunity to develop employer-focused higher education in England. An apprentice enjoys the benefits of full-time employment status while studying and receives at least an apprentice’s minimum wage. They are also not burdened by training costs or student fees.

According to Universities UK, the key feature of degree apprenticeships is that they are co-designed by employers, ensuring that apprentices are equipped with the skills employers’ need, while boosting their employment prospects. Furthermore, according to the Apprenticeship Levy announced, from April 2017, employers will pay 0.5% of their payroll bill to fund apprenticeships for all companies. What’s more, the government will also pay the employer a completion fee of £2,700 when the apprentice graduates.

According to David Cameron, “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.”

The program’s potential growth in numbers

In 2015/16 alone, there were 509,400 apprenticeships started in England, 9,500 more than the previous year. Taking into consideration the rapid rise of start rates, even though the government’s commitment to create three million apprenticeships by 2020 looks difficult to achieve, this signals that there is clearly a demand for growth in the market. Additionally, by 2019–20 government spending on apprenticeships is set to be doubled from the level of spending in 2010–11, setting the investment bar even higher.

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The benefits to stakeholders strengthens prospects

Although there is a long way to go in order to talk of success, one cannot avoid some few of the strongest advantages of the effort. A few of the benefits bestowed upon each of the relevant factors are listed below:

Students have the opportunity to build their skills and gain a university degree while at the same time working in their field of preference. They enjoy the privileges of an employee while avoiding the hazards of student loans and financial insecurity.

Universities gain access to an important income stream, a much needed aid especially after the effects of Brexit on education and employment in the UK. Universities are given the chance to attract non-traditional students, thus providing an opportunity for apprenticeships to support widening participation goals. Furthermore, the program has the potential to spread new academic, vocational and technological knowledge throughout the workforce.

Employers, on the other hand, have the chance to co-design the apprentice program that suits their business, fill high-level skills gaps by tailoring learning to their specific business needs, gain access to a great number of skilled employees with minimum costs and associated risks, augmenting business engagement and forming closer links with employees.

The UK Government fosters the conditions for ensuring the sustainability of the labor market in the UK, minimizing the impact of Brexit and its possible subsequent reduction in investment. That’s alongside enhancing employment in the UK by obtaining and securing a skillful workforce and amplifying all areas of production so as to achieve sustainability. The program aspires to promote social mobility, widening and diversifying participation, delivering simultaneously in the areas of higher education provision that meet national skill needs, as well as promoting local growth and development.

By meeting the needs of all the constants of the formula, the benefits of the whole endeavor seem to be clear. In these rapidly changing times, Britain seems to be on the right track to achieve the commitments and goals set out at the introduction of the bill.