Posted : 11 months ago by Mandy Crawford-Lee

The Apprenticeship Workforce Development (AWD) Programme: Helping to Realise the Degree Apprenticeship Growth Opportunity that no University Should Miss

The Apprenticeship Workforce Development (AWD) Programme: Helping to Realise the Degree Apprenticeship Growth Opportunity that no University Should Miss

The mood music for universities can seem at times a little depressing. The chorus chant that too many young people go to university is rising in volume.  A rebalancing of post-18 education between apprenticeships and technical education and higher education in favour of the former, often dominates the proposals advanced by policy makers in England.  

In higher education there is however a significant growth opportunity – higher and degree apprenticeships. UVAC would note:

Apprenticeships enjoy cross party support.  Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP the Skills, Appenticeships and Higher Education Minister and former Chair of the Education Select Committee delights in describing ‘degree apprenticeship’ as his two favourite words in the English Language.  He has also made clear that he wants ALL universities to offer degree apprenticeships.  The Secretary of State the Rt Hon Gillian Keegan MP has similar enthusiasm seeing herself, when she started work, as one of the first degree apprentices.  Meanwhile, Toby Perkins MP Labour’s Shadow Minister for Skills and Further Education has made clear that “For Labour, Apprenticeships are the Gold Standard.”


  • The recent growth of level 6 and 7 apprenticeships has been impressive with starts increasing by 14% when the first quarter of the 2022/23 academic year (August, September and October) is compared with the same quarter in the 2021/22 academic year.  Data for the first quarter of the 2022/23 academic year shows that level 6 and 7 apprenticeships accounted for around a fifth (18%) of all apprenticeship starts


This growth, however, does not seem to be enough for Ministers.  In setting out the government’s priorities for the Office for Students (OfS) in the Strategic Priorities Grant (SPG) letter for the 2023-24 Financial Year (30th March 2023) the Secretary of State has asked the OfS to establish a competitive degree apprenticeship development fund, worth up to £40m allocated across the 2023/24 and 2024/25 financial years. This follows the allocation of £8m to accelerate the growth of degree apprenticeship announced in March this year for existing providers of provision.  This latest degree apprenticeship development fund will focus on supporting providers to deliver provision for the first time, supporting existing providers to deliver a wider range of provision and improving access to and participation in degree apprenticeships.  The Department for Education (DfE) is also streamlining the process of market entry to OfS registered providers who are not registered on the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers (RoATP).  It is being presented as a ‘fast track’ and more light touch with applicants having to demonstrate which apprenticeship standards and which employers/sectors they will be delivering to and why. It is suggested that OfS want to establish their own ‘gold standard’ model for degree apprenticeship providers.

UVAC is committed to supporting the higher education sector and its members to develop and grow higher and degree apprenticeships and to respond to the government’s degree apprenticeship growth calls.  We are, for example, providing very practical long-term support through our involvement in the Apprenticeship Workforce Development (AWD) programme.  The AWD programme is being delivered by a 5-way delivery partnerships including the Education and Training Foundation (ETF), the Association of Colleges (AoC), Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP), Strategic Development Network (SDN) with UVAC.



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