At only £2.65 per hour apprentices offer great value for employers, and yesterday the Chancellor announced funding for an additional 100,000 places, including degree level apprenticeships (equivalent to bachelor or masters degree), establishing an alternative route to the graduate jobs market while avoiding the need for young people having to incur university tuition fees.
More than 40 different subject areas are covered, and this is likely to appeal to students with a vocational outlook to education and those who might question the real worth of a traditional degree. Small employers (to whom this scheme applies) will also benefit from low hourly rates of pay (the minimum wage for apprentices is a fraction of the ‘adult rate’ although many employers choose to pay more).
Aside from bargain rates of pay though, the emphasis towards graduate level apprentice schemes is a small shift towards the more vocationally inspired learning culture more commonly seen in countries like Germany for example. With UK employers commonly complaining about the poor standard of graduate and school leavers in terms of work skills this move should be welcomed as a positive progression of the UK’s education culture, albeit this is a very small step in that direction.
A minor word of caution to employers contemplating taking on an apprenticeship – we strongly advise you have a specific apprentice employment contract (this is NOT the same as the training agreement provided by the college) to minimise the risk of incurring potentially large employment law penalties in the event that the apprenticeship is ended early. For more on the legal aspects of apprenticeships, see our earlier article.