• Managing Degree Apprenticeships through a Work-Based Learning Framework – Opportunities and Challenges

      Rowe, Lisa; University of Chester
      The Higher Education Institute (HEI) employer interface has attracted much attention in recent years, particularly in light of current dissatisfaction with graduate work-readiness. Concurrently, pressure upon new entrants to the workplace is accelerating through an unprecedented pace of change in technology, requiring currency of employability skills and resilience for individuals to adapt, thrive and perform effectively in an increasingly unpredictable global environment. In 2014 a new form of apprenticeship was proposed in England to simultaneously address these skills shortages whilst offering a genuine alternative to undergraduate degree programmes. Hailed as “the greatest opportunity ever seen for anyone concerned with skills and employment” (Jeffrey 2016, p.1) early HEI adopters have already successfully collaborated with employers to launch business management degree apprenticeships with initial cohorts nearing completion of their first year. The chapter proposed here is therefore highly significant for two reasons. The first is to inform HEI practice and pedagogic development, particularly in terms of work-based learning degree apprenticeship design and delivery within the new political apprenticeship reforms, which are attracting renewed interest across the globe. This is one of the first evaluations to be published upon this type of programme, affording a unique opportunity to explore how pedagogic approaches to building graduate employability can be improved. Secondly it considers the effectiveness of the emerging generation of work-based business degree apprentices in terms of performance, retention and engagement as a result of well-developed employability skills. This degree apprenticeship challenges academically led, full time provision with a 20% off the job learning model. An explicit employer led focus cumulates in a separate synoptic end point assessment, altering the fundamentally traditional approach to embedding employability skills into something far more tacit in nature, through negotiated projects, reflective learning and employer mentoring. In order to examine the effectiveness of this new pedagogic approach, the chapter focuses upon the design and development of a business management degree apprenticeship. It explores current literature concerning work-based learning pedagogy and reflective practice, the role of the employer as a mentor and the development of employability skills. It incorporates an exploratory case study based upon one of the earliest cohorts in England, collectively identifying a complex range of themes and issues for each stakeholder in designing and developing degree apprenticeships. The chapter concludes with recommendations for HEIs who wish to take advantage of this new and fast changing political agenda through their own development of similar, highly innovative and lucrative initiatives.