Degree apprenticeships: the smart choice?

Director of Corporate Partnerships at Arden University, Stacey Allen, explains why degree apprenticeships are a smart choice for both employers and their staff:


Degree apprenticeships are an increasingly attractive option for businesses – offering tailored and relevant training to both new and existing employees. Employers can use the funding to both attract new talent, i.e. to give people a guaranteed training/development experience; or can be used as part of a staff development strategy to up-skill current workers. 

The Benefits:

The benefits of degree apprenticeships for employers are various and wide-ranging; initial data from the pilot schemes has shown those taking part in these programmes are from a much wider talent pool in comparison to those applying for the traditional degree routes. Thus, by offering an apprenticeship pathway, businesses are increasing their ability to attract a much more diverse workforce.

Another important benefit is increased employee retention. For staff, the benefits of studying for a degree apprenticeship are numerous: 

  • 2018 figures from show that after finishing, 77% of apprentices stay with the same employer, 46% received a pay rise, and 36% reported getting a promotion
  • A salary and guaranteed job while you study
  • The potential to achieve graduate and postgraduate-level qualifications
  • Employers are expected to offer you the chance to stay and progress in your job after the apprenticeship
  • New opportunities for career progression if you’re already in work
  • The chance to gain professional accreditation and membership

The retention rate of those employees taking degree apprenticeships is much higher than other early career pathways including graduate recruitment, with some large employers quoting this as high as 85% measured over the same period. 

Moreover, given the nature of the applied learning model at the workplace, those graduating in their specialist field (whether they are new or existing employees) will have been trained in both the technical knowledge and softer occupational behaviours needed to meet the unique needs of your business. 

The Practicalities:

The equivalent of one day a week is spent on studies and project work – so that flexibility and minimal travel time are key factors. Most universities, including Arden, will have dedicated points of contact and apprenticeship web pages, and I would encourage any business keen to set up an apprenticeship scheme to engage with these points of contact, as they will listen to your needs and help support you with choosing a model that works for your business. 

3 people sitting around a table working

When engaging with a university as a potential partner it is also worth discussing if there are any areas of the operations they could facilitate for you that would keep costs down and add value for you as the customer. 

National Apprenticeship Week

Logo for National Apprenticeship week

The theme for this year’s National Apprenticeship Week is ‘Blazing a Trail’ – for individuals, employers, the community and for the wider economy. 

Apprenticeships do 'blaze a trail' and do work - and despite their reputation for popularity among younger learners; figures from show that between August 2017 to December 2018 there were 138,500 apprenticeship commitments, from learners aged 25 and over alone.

At Arden, our degree apprenticeships are aimed towards mature learners, who are currently employed and are wanting to take their career to the next level.