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Developing your own graduate employees: Employer perspectives on the value of a degree apprenticeship

Antcliff, V and Baines, S and Gorb, E (2016) Developing your own graduate employees: Employer perspectives on the value of a degree apprenticeship. Higher Education, Skills and Work-based Learning, 6 (4). pp. 378-383. ISSN 2042-3896

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Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to offer an employer perspective on the value of degree apprenticeships (DAs) less than a year after the first apprentices commenced their studies for a bachelor's degree in September 2015. Design/methodology/approach - This case focusses on one of the first DAs in the UK. It draws on evidence from interviews with HR professionals responsible for the DA in two contrasting companies, an international PLC and a smaller, fast growing enterprise. Findings - Both employers consider that the DA meets recruitment needs in ways that other options do not. They particularly value the ability of apprentices to make an immediate contribution in the workplace. For the smaller employer the university support structures are a significant advantage. Only the larger employer formally input into the curriculum prior to validation but both feel they can tailor content to suit their needs. Both see investing in the DA as excellent value for money. Practical implications - The value of strong relationships, trust and ongoing dialogue between partners emerges as a key component in fulfilling the need of employers. Originality/value - The DA model recasts employers as the purchasers of higher education and affords them a key role in developing provision tailored to their needs. Implications of this new model for employers, universities and learners are potentially profound and hard to predict. This case study is based on part of the early stage of a three-year research programme. It provides a unique, early insight into two employers' rationales for engaging with the DA programme and their initial experiences.

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