The Higher Education Commission’s seventh inquiry is examining how Degree Apprenticeships (DAs) are being implemented. In 2015, the Government committed itself to overseeing the creation of three million new apprenticeships by 2020, and the development of DAs is seen as an important element of this policy. The reforms surrounding DAs, which combine workplace experiences with HE study, offer the opportunity for an apprentice to gain a full degree by the end of the apprenticeship.
Degree apprenticeships are an innovative means of widening access to learning, achieving higher-level and more work-relevant skills, and are therefore a crucial element in the drive to increase productivity. Degree apprenticeships also boost social mobility and underpin efforts to promote inclusion by enabling students to ‘earn while they learn’. They offer higher life-time earnings than most degrees, and can help narrow the employment gap between more affluent and less-advantaged graduates. They generate positive spill-overs for other degree courses and they are a vital mechanism for boosting parity of esteem between vocational and academic study. In summary, they are an excellent idea, and they are emerging at just the right time.