Degree apprenticeships are key to closing the UK skills gap

7th February 2024
Liam Young

It is hard to go a day without a new report or a warning call from business leaders on the skills gap across the UK. As the skills demanded by employers and those possessed by job seekers has widened, just about everybody is alert to the significant challenge this presents to the nation’s economic growth and prosperity. That is also why this National Apprenticeship Week is so important.

The current skills shortage in the UK is a real threat to progress. Skills are the backbone of any thriving economy – they drive innovation, productivity, and competitiveness, ensuring businesses and organisations remain dynamic and resilient in an ever-evolving global landscape.

One existing solution stands out as particularly promising: degree apprenticeships. This route offers a unique blend of hands-on experience and academic learning, providing individuals with the skills and knowledge needed to excel in their chosen fields while simultaneously addressing the nation’s pressing skills shortage.

Degree apprenticeships have rapidly gained traction since their introduction in England in 2015, with universities and employers embracing the opportunity to reshape skills development. Today, a vast majority of universities in England are registered to provide apprenticeships, and there’s a robust pipeline of higher-level standards in development to meet evolving demands.

However, for degree apprenticeships to reach their full potential, several key factors must be addressed.

Strong leadership and strategic vision are essential, with universities and apprenticeship providers needing leaders who understand industry dynamics and are committed to driving excellence and innovation in skills development.

There is also a pressing need for better information and guidance to raise awareness about the benefits of degree apprenticeships among employers, students, and parents.

Initiatives to support social mobility and lifelong learning, as well as targeted efforts to address skills shortages in key sectors, are also crucial for the continued success of these programs.

Looking ahead, the future of degree apprenticeships hinges on strategic policy decisions and collaborative efforts between government, employers, universities, and other stakeholders. It will be a major subject within the next general election, especially given the focus on growth.

If you are a university or an apprenticeship provider looking for senior leadership professionals that are passionate about skills, please contact Liam Young, consultant in Berwick Partners’ Education Practice for a conversation.


Categories: Education