Colleagues will be aware that the Institute for Apprenticeships has commenced a review of the Digital Technology Solutions Professional (Degree) Apprenticeship. The consultation is live and will remain open until the 18th Oct 2018. See invitation to respond here. We are encouraging our members and wider HE partners to respond.
UVAC are of the view that as far as the Digital Technology Solutions Professional (Degree) Apprenticeship is concerned quality is good, volume is good, and that the Apprenticeship is working for employers and fulfilling the objectives of the apprenticeship programme. The HE regulator, the Office for Students, also shares this view and the evidence supports our position.
Regrettably, under the Institute for Apprenticeships so called ‘Faster and Better’ approach to Apprenticeship standards and assessment plans and its mandatory qualification rule the Digital Technology Solutions Professional (Degree) Apprenticeship faces a problem. Under the mandatory qualification rule a trailblazer can only specify a mandatory qualification in an Apprenticeship standard, including a degree, if it’s a requirement of a professional body, regulator or used in hard sifting for job interviews. The Digital Technology Solutions Professional (Degree) Apprenticeship meets none of these requirements. If the Institute for Apprenticeships applies its mandatory qualifications rule to the Digital Technology Solutions Professional (Degree) Apprenticeship the degree will be removed from the Apprenticeship.
The Trailblazer and employers want to retain the mandatory degree in the Digital Technology Solutions Professional (Degree) Apprenticeship. Employers see the inclusion of the degree as a way to attract new talent to the sector and it is already having an impact on attracting more women to take up tech occupations. Learners value the degree, the transferability, HE experience and status it offers. Removal of the degree would be bad news for the learner and social mobility and is of obvious concern to the Office for Students.
There is a solution. In the issues and solutions paper UVAC submitted to the Institute for Apprenticeships, Office for Students and the Department for Education we made the following recommendation:
The IfA revises its approach and, in addition to current criteria, allows employers through the Trailblazer process to specify a mandatory degree in an Apprenticeship where they can demonstrate its inclusion will support social mobility and is in the interests of employers in the sector (e.g. the degree ‘professionalises’ an occupation, helps attract new talent, raises performance standards for the occupation).
This recommendation is based on the policy rationale of the Apprenticeship reforms, productivity and social mobility. It is supported by Office for Students and the Chair of the Digital Trailblazer Groups.
We await a response from the Institute for Apprenticeships.