Calendar clash, apprenticeships, two year degrees and credit accumulation and transfer

It’s been a busy month in terms of news and developments. You may or may not be aware that not only is this week National Careers Week, but it’s also National Apprenticeship Week – who was in charge of the events diary for March I wonder? Anyway, National Careers Week aims to be a celebration of careers guidance as well as highlight free resources in education across the UK.

In terms of Apprenticeships, a report today from Universities UK called Degree Apprenticeships Realising Opportunities was timed to coincide with National Apprenticeship Week and is predicting a significant increase in the number of people opting for degree apprenticeships in England. The report is based on a survey of 66 universities and their views on degree apprenticeship provision in England. Key headlines include the prediction that there will be a 658% increase in degree apprentice entrants – from 640 in 2015-16 to 4,850 in 2017-18 (totalling 7,611 across the three years) and that 91% of universities surveyed are actively involved with degree apprenticeships. The report states that degree apprenticeships are addressing key skills shortages, with chartered management, digital and technology solutions, and engineering representing the top three areas of provision.  If their predictions become a reality it would be excellent news. With degree apprenticeships developments in a number of public sector professions, including nursing, social work and in the police force, it’s an exciting time in terms of apprenticeship developments.  There are however some issues that need to be addressed. These include apprenticeship completion rates which, according to new government figures, a third of apprentices don’t complete their apprenticeships after a new methodology was applied. The number of employers who might use the apprenticeship levy not to create new opportunities but to instead rebrand existing training they already deliver is also a concern. A new report from BPP Professional Education’s poll of leading organisations revealed that 53% of professional organisations say they will repackage existing training schemes as apprenticeships in order to derive the maximum benefit from the new regime.

In other news, two year degrees are in the spotlight. While we know that accelerated degrees have been offered for several years by HE providers, proposals from Jo Johnson, the Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, to allow universities in England the ability to charge higher annual fees for shorter degree courses, means we are likely to see this to become a more common option for learners.  The government is also pushing ahead with plans to allow students more flexibility to switch courses while in HE. The government wants the new Office for Students to be given responsibility for monitoring, reporting on, and actively encouraging arrangements for credit accumulation and transfer across the sector. The potential benefits of this for students are championed as greater flexibility in terms of what they study, where and when. The sector has been talking about this for decades now, with limited success to date. An interesting article in the Guardian explores this development in more detail in terms of what’s in it for students and some challenges that would need to be addressed.

If you are interested in discussing the latest developments in the world of IAG and would like to find out more about current higher and degree apprenticeship opportunities in London, please book onto the next Linking London IAG Practitioner Meeting on the 20th of April.