University invites businesses to find out about new degree apprenticeship

University invites businesses to find out about new degree apprenticeship

The University of Cumbria is inviting local businesses to find out about the new degree-level apprenticeships at the Carlisle Business Interaction Centre, Paternoster Row on Thursday 26 November from 2-4pm.

Degree-level apprenticeships differ from previous higher-level apprenticeships in that the resulting qualification could be the equivalent of up to a full masters’ degree. Previously, higher-level apprenticeships were provided by further education colleges and were equivalent of up to the first year of a degree.  These new even higher-level apprenticeships are facilitated by universities and students could potentially receive a dual award: a higher-level apprenticeship and a university award such as a bachelor’s or masters’ degree.  Many of the new higher-level apprenticeships are targeting professional standards and are also recognised by their respective professional bodies.

A benefit of the new scheme is that the qualification is two-thirds funded by the government with the final third contributed by the participating business. Attending the event will be representatives from the Skills Funding Agency who will explain how the funding for the new scheme will work.

The university has developed their first degree-level apprenticeship programme in professional accounting, which they will be presenting at the event. It is currently awaiting confirmation by the Skills Funding Agency with the view of going-live next academic year. There are also plans to develop apprenticeships in other areas such as management, project management and lab technician but they are in the very early stages of development. Businesses attending the event are encouraged to suggest other areas that might benefit from a new higher-level apprenticeship.

Recent research by Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership* suggested there were several constraints to economic growth in Cumbria; a lack of people able to do the job and a shortage of people willing to do it. This important finding reflects a difficulty in sourcing skilled labour from outside the region due to the combination of rural location, transport issues and high house prices in and around the National Park. 

Sandy Ryder, Senior Lecturer in Accounting and Finance, University of Cumbria, said: “One potential solution is for Cumbria to grow its own skilled workforce to satisfy the skills gap and degree-level apprenticeships could provide the answer. I’d urge local businesses to come so they can hear first-hand the amazing opportunities these apprenticeships provide. They’ll get the rare opportunity to speak to the SFA face-to-face about how their business could benefit and they’ll get a chance to influence the future direction of apprenticeship provision in Cumbria.”

The degree-level apprenticeship is a new model that combines the best of higher and vocational education. These new degree apprenticeships have been designed by groups of businesses, professional industry bodies, universities and colleges, who have created 'Trailblazer Standards' for each role.  The intention is that apprentices will gain a higher-level academic qualification, while earning a salary and benefitting from real on-the-job experience relevant to the industry and/or profession.

The new degree-level apprenticeships will help employers in Cumbria to develop the skills they need specific to their business requirements, with the added benefit of government funding and additional financial incentives for small businesses.  The current funding model consists of two thirds government funding (up to a cap depending on the apprenticeship) and one third employer funding for the external training and assessment.  There are also additional financial incentives for apprentices aged 16-18 years, for small businesses with fewer than 50 employees, and upon completion of the apprenticeship.

The event is open to any business wishing to develop their employees. To attend email James Bober:carlislebic@cumbria.ac.uk.