Mike Punt reviews the University’s journey and success delivering degree apprenticeships
The last seven years have been an eventful journey for the University of Portsmouth in relation to degree apprenticeships. However, this journey has been a positive experience for all parties involved, and has ultimately enabled many employees to obtain a degree while being in work.
Where it all began
The University started delivering degree apprenticeships in September 2016 via the Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship (CMDA) with seven apprentices. As of May 2023 we now have 762 apprentices and 400 sub-contracted apprentices via Middlesex University. The Faculty of Business and Law was the first faculty to launch a degree apprenticeship, and due to its success, degree apprenticeships are now delivered in all faculties.
Apprenticeships have become an integral part of our response to the University vision 2030 and strategy 2025 – including meeting changing demand and widening participation as the institution seeks to grow by 10,000 more students, and delivering a life-changing experience for every student. It’s easy to reel off the facts and figures (we now have an income of over £4 million per year from degree apprenticeships, which is quite remarkable), but I want to focus on the path that University staff, employers and apprentices have been on to get there.
Back in 2015, not many people in the University were aware of degree apprenticeships, so it was a challenge to even decide whether to enter this market for the first time. There was a lot to understand about apprenticeships, including what is contained within the apprenticeship standard, end-point assessment, knowledge, skills and behaviours, the funding of apprenticeships, and compliance requirements.
Back in 2015, not many people in the University were aware of degree apprenticeships, so it was a challenge to even decide whether to enter this market for the first time.
Our journey with degree apprenticeships
This journey has also involved a tremendous amount of development for academic and administration staff. Learning how to deliver knowledge, skills and behaviours within the apprenticeships, complete progress reviews, compliance with ESFA rules, and more recently compliance with Ofsted, has been a challenge. All of these stages of learning have taken time and perseverance. To enter a new market with limited knowledge was tough, but met by dedication from all staff involved in apprenticeships.
My own journey has been truly amazing, from launching degree apprenticeships in the Faculty of Technology to setting up the central degree apprenticeship team from scratch, and winning many tenders. With the excellent news on our recent Ofsted success for degree apprenticeships, where we achieved significant progress in ‘Leadership and Management’ and ‘Quality of Education’, there is much to celebrate.
With the excellent news on our recent Ofsted success for degree apprenticeships, where we achieved significant progress in ‘Leadership and Management’ and ‘Quality of Education’, there is much to celebrate.
Embracing a new landscape
Employers, for their part, have had to adapt to a new landscape of apprenticeships at levels 6 and 7 and the introduction of the apprenticeship levy, but it’s a credit to small, medium and large organisations that they’ve embraced degree apprenticeships and fully supported their employees. Yet it’s the personal story of each apprentice that’s so heartwarming.
These apprentices are already in the workplace so the benefits of an apprenticeship have a real impact on them, gaining new knowledge, skills and behaviours and taking this back into their roles to deliver higher productivity and efficiency to their employers. Many of them have not had the chance to study in higher education before, so we have given a lifetime chance to many apprentices who would otherwise not be able to study for a degree at level 6 or 7. Most important of all is the success of the apprentices.
Notes of appreciation
There is so much to be proud of in this journey, meeting local and national skills needs, and so lastly a few ‘thank yous’ are needed:
- To the University Executive Board for their support for degree apprenticeships which has allowed us to resource these university-wide
- To all the administration staff involved, as without their support and work we would not be able to support the apprentices and employers
- To the academic teams involved in the delivery and assessment of apprenticeships and their day-to-day support to apprentices
- To all other staff involved in apprenticeships, from work-based tutors, online course developers, faculty staff and all the professional services staff who support us
- To the central degree apprenticeship team, who manage many of the functions relating to apprenticeships, and who are a great team and always meeting the demands of the apprentice and employer
Author: Mike Punt is Director of Learning at Work and Degree Apprenticeships at the University of Portsmouth.