Half a century ago, securing a degree from even a semi-prestigious university provided a surety of job prospects and a vocational pathway. These days, thanks to the glut of university courses now out there, degrees don’t hold the same sort of weight they once did. In other words, today, simply having a degree is no guarantee of securing work. In fact, increasingly employers are citing candidates (more often than not recent graduates) being ‘over-qualified’ for the job they’re applying for, or that whilst they may have the grades and the academic knowhow, the requisite practical skills are sorely lacking.
Apprenticeships have since been thought of as to the solution to this problem, but many argue that then swings the equation too far in the other direction, and worry that apprentices aren’t getting the same sort of educational training that university higher education provides. That’s where degree apprenticeships come in. Here at Munday + Cramer, an architectural design and building surveying practice, we’re lucky enough to have several degree apprentices at the firm. We wanted to look at how these hybrid learning pathways help kill two birds with one stone.
What are Degree Apprenticeships?
In short, they’re exactly what they say on the tin. That’s to say, they combine the academic qualifications of a university degree with the vocational, on-the-job practical experience that an apprenticeship provides. First introduced back in 2015, they’ve quickly become one of the most popular routes for both students and employers, alike. Why? Well, primarily because they address that is-sue mentioned in the introduction; they’re a versatile qualification, producing employees at the end of it moulded around the workplace as it is today, rather than simply adhering to the dated principle that a degree will adequately prepare you for the world of work.
To put it another way, if the careers landscape of thirty years ago was represented by a round hole, then that has now changed to a square-shaped hole. Arguably, the traditional university degree system – which undoubtedly (and just as arguably wrongly) still places academia on top of the learning hierarchy – is still producing graduates suited to that round hole, whilst degree apprentice-ships, on the other hand, produce candidates fitting its square successor. Simply, degree apprenticeships are creating helping mould and shape students for a similarly modern working environment.
Are Degree Apprenticeships for Everyone?
Clearly, there are some areas more suited to offering degree apprenticeships than others. Purely practical-based professions, those that require less (if any) academic training, will typically benefit most from offering straight apprenticeships (from both the apprentice’s perspective and the employer’s). By the same token, careers which lean more heavily on academia don’t typically demand the same kind of workplace experience on resumes, and so a conventional degree is still a good option.
For that nebulous no-man’s-land in between, however, degree apprenticeships are perfect. Take building surveying, for instance. A discipline which demands both a keen understanding of mathematics, and both architectural and construction principles, whilst also requiring a large degree of practical knowhow – understanding how to accurately use a theodolite, for example.
What’s more, certain industries have accreditation pathways and routes which take a further few years to complete, beyond the university education. Securing RICS accreditation in that example of surveying, say. By offering students the chance to get (paid) work within these firms, not only are you better setting them down that pathway, but you’re also more likely grant those same students immediate full-time employment, following their university study.
Employers Also Benefit
This is beneficial from the employer’s perspective, too; they’re getting an employee who they them-selves have trained, somebody whose already partially ingrained within the company and under-stands its processes and its values. Taking on any new employee always comes with a degree of risk, no matter how seemingly well-suited they are to the job in question. And whilst taking on a for-mer degree apprentice into your practice full-time – that’s to say, one who completed their vocational training at your company – doesn’t eliminate all risk entirely, it certainly mitigates most of it.
Our Recent Degree Apprentice Success
Our most recent degree apprentice success has been that of Michael Smith, who recently achieved a First Class Degree in his Chartered Surveying Degree Apprentice, from Anglia Ruskin University, in Chelmsford. Having started out with us following his sixth form studies, Michael has gone onto engage in a wide variety of areas within the firm, including peer-to-peer mentoring, taking part in pre-APC challenges and starring in a “You’re Hired!” event made in conjunction with the DfE and RICS. Seeing Michael graduate with the highest honours is great to see, and testament to his hard work, as well as the support he’s received from his various mentors and peers at Munday + Cramer.
A varied spectrum of training opportunities fosters a correspondingly versatile workforce, and that can only ever be a good thing. Degree apprenticeships are unquestionably now a mainstay within that spectrum.
So, if you’d like to find out more about the degree apprentices we’ve taken in the past, or any of the services we offer – ranging from architectural design to building surveying – then get in touch! Contact us today on 01245 326 200 or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, you can fill out one of our online enquiry forms and we’ll get back to you as quickly as possible. However you wish to get in touch, we look forward to hearing from you!