We looked at apprenticeships in an earlier issue of this newsletter, but titillated you with some future work on higher apprenticeships. This isn’t it! However, this article looks at factors that help get higher apprenticeships at degree level ‘off the ground’ in both the UK and New Zealand.

In the UK they are looking to apprenticeships to help recruit for the civil service. In New Zealand, the focus is on engineering. The NZ pilot has been underpinned by a study led by Prof Jane Goodyer. Her project team worked with a group of engineering employers and Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics (ITPs) to develop a degree-based apprenticeship focused in a major area of need.

The UK approach

A university pathway is not for everyone, and some prefer studying and working as that suits their learning styles better. Apprenticeships are now being seen as a genuine alternative, and possibly the route of choice into the civil service.  The civil service apprenticeship strategy was launched in 2017 and builds on the civil service workforce plan. The plan has three important initiatives:

First, they want to bring in talent from a diverse range of backgrounds and beyond their traditional recruitment networks.

Second, they want to build:

“Rewarding career paths that develop experience and expertise within specific areas for our existing staff. Our apprenticeship schemes are particularly linked to this and have been designed to help us build talent from the bottom up…”

Finally, the plan aims to enhance the current fast track apprenticeship program, which offers a range of benefits to both the apprentices and the organisations that provide them.

And in New Zealand

The proposed approach in New Zealand is modeled on one developed at Manchester Metropolitan University. It aims to combine academic learning with on-the-job practical training. So, it is a ‘learn and earn’ scheme, combining full-time work and part-time study for new applicants or existing employees. The essence of success is that it is ‘employer led’.

Goodyer and her team’s pilot study looked at the key factors needed to develop and implement such a program. These included the importance of those seeking to establish the program being well organized and having good networks. They also found how valuable face-to-face meetings, workshops and individual interviews were to develop trust, gain commitment and co-develop the concept.

They also pointed out that it was important to listen to employers, and start with their greatest concerns: most often succession planning and recruitment. They suggested that:

“This sequence is important in the change process literature – deal with immediate (emotional, identity-type) concerns first, and then participants are better able to focus on more distal matters.”

Most importantly the apprenticeship model adopted needs to “give people broad experiences through their training so they are better prepared and more flexible to employ.” It also needs to “create multiple pathways, from school leavers to those with employment experience who wish to re-skill or up-skill.” Finally, it must “allow those with employment experience to be granted credit for relevant expertise and thereby encounter a shorter and adapted ‘training programme.”

Wellington Institute of Technology (WelTec) and Otago Polytechnic have submitted a proposal to implement the degree.