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Can I do an Apprenticeship If I Have a Degree

Over the last couple of years, apprenticeships’ prestige has undeniably strengthened. Traditionally viewed as a profession for a school pupil, much effort has been spent in placing apprenticeships as an enticing and reliable alternative to university. In addition, more companies are introducing programmes aimed at young people who have graduated from school. 

However, a fascinating development in the Apprenticeship dynamic has gained less recognition. Unfortunately, this change has the power to undo much of our hard work to strengthen the reputation of apprenticeships.

On the one hand, there is fear that an explosion of graduates could drive school leavers out of Apprenticeship positions. On the other side, there is fear that if a graduate scheme is labelled as an “Apprenticeship,” they may not participate, causing a debate about the Apprenticeship brand.

Graduates enrolled in Apprenticeship programmes are a relatively new creation. Previously, someone with a degree higher than a foundation degree (Level 4) was prohibited from earning government grants.

Until recently, most apprenticeships available were at very low levels of attainment, which means that many graduates would be overqualified to begin one.

However, the government’s recent push to create Apprenticeships at the Degree and Masters’s levels has opened up a whole new world of opportunities for university graduates. In general, they can now seek an Apprenticeship that is more advanced than their degree or a different subject to what they studied.

As a bonus, they would be qualified for scholarships. In practice, several businesses are rethinking how to plan a new intake of graduates to follow an Apprenticeship course.

Graduates are not all progressing to higher-level apprenticeships. Despite new Apprenticeship criteria emphasising career responsibilities, candidates with non-relevant degrees are already being funded on lower levels of Apprenticeships. They claim their degree did not teach them the necessary experience or skills to excel in that position. Apprenticeship preparation is therefore needed, it is argued, to get their skills up to speed.

What is better, an apprenticeship or a degree? When an increasing number of businesses consider converting their graduate programmes to Apprenticeships, one question is, “Do we have to mark it as an Apprenticeship?” There is fear that this would deter graduates from applying or damage the scheme’s internal prestige. Given the traditional association between Apprenticeships with school leavers, this is a reasonable concern.

This does not determine the apprentice’s age or background but emphasises those working in a profession. Whether you’re a plumber, a broadcast mechanic, a doctor, or a CPA makes no difference. However, few occupations nowadays welcome graduates who can hit the ground running; most need a structured education. Can apprenticeships be limited to just school leavers as a result of this?

Any advancement in skills and planning can be seen as a promising step toward improving our ability to compete. Therefore, we should embrace rather than avoid the term “apprenticeship” and look forward to the day when the government’s target is “An Apprenticeship for Everyone,” regardless of the journey taken.

Updated on September 7, 2022

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