You're hired? Apprenticeship degree mooted

November 19, 2009

Plans have been unveiled for a "composite" honours and masters degree incorporating an apprenticeship as part of a new national skills strategy.

Earlier this year, the Government pledged to help more apprentices enter university and announced it was considering a fresh form of vocational degree.

In a skills strategy published last week, it announced a pilot of "composite honours and masters programmes that maintain at their heart the principal requirements for an apprenticeship: employed status, technical expertise, occupational competency and professional recognition of their skills".

The document, Skills for Growth - The National Skills Strategy, also sets a new "super target" for widening participation.

It says that 75 per cent of young Britons should participate in higher education or complete an advanced apprenticeship or equivalent course by the age of 30.

But it adds that this "broadens out, but does not supersede, our 50 per cent higher education participation target".

In a bid to encourage more apprentices to enter university, the Government promises to set up an Apprenticeship Scholarships Fund to provide a "golden hello" of up to £1,000 to 1,000 of the best apprentices seeking to go into higher education.

It also backs the creation of university technical colleges for 14- to 19-year-olds, an idea proposed by Lord Baker, the former Conservative Education Secretary, and the late Lord Dearing, who led the 1997 review of higher education.

A pilot technical college in Birmingham, sponsored by Aston University, is due to open in 2012.

The White Paper says the state will increase advanced apprenticeships by up to 35,000 over the next two years, and plans to apply Universities and Colleges Admissions Service tariff points to Level 3 and 4 apprenticeships, enabling comparison with other qualifications.

It adds that more of the skills budget will be focused on "areas of the economy that can do most to drive growth and jobs".

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