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What is the Degree/Apprenticeship Shift: and what does it mean for EPAOs?

What is the Degree/Apprenticeship Shift: and what does it mean for EPAOs?

With the first apprentice doctors (and space engineers) entering the workforce next year, is this a watershed moment in how we perceive apprenticeships - and what do the changes all mean for the EPAOs poised to make it happen?

You might have seen headlines dominate the press around ‘apprentice doctors’ not long ago. While many will have seen the story about staff shortages and a health system under pressure - there was (and still is) another intriguing thread to follow, especially for those working in the world of apprenticeships.

There’s more to the story

You don’t have to go far back to notice that thread, either. Just this year, we’ve heard several interesting announcements relating to significant changes we can expect to see in apprenticeships. For example, we’ve heard about:

To a degree, some of this can be attributed to housekeeping - fixing problems in current apprenticeship provision. However, there’s no denying that these announcements are a sign of something bigger going on.

It’s nothing short of a turning point for the importance and prestige of apprenticeships going forward.

Why is this happening - and what’s the bigger picture?

Firstly, both government and relevant stakeholders in the apprenticeship ecosystem - from IfATE to EPAOs such as SIAS - recognise the potential for apprenticeships to fill long-term skills gaps in key sectors, such as policing. In fact, the government is banking on them.

Secondly, there aren’t just more opportunities for apprentices in fields with skills shortages - but there’s a greater diversity in the types of apprenticeships available, too. 

For example, ‘degree apprenticeships’ are becoming available in fields ranging from medicine (medical doctors) to space engineering, combining the ‘on-the-job’ learning inherent to an apprenticeship with the theoretical excellence driven by universities - which will produce a well-rounded, high-calibre apprentice.

Lastly, apprenticeships aren’t just being seen as a response to skills gaps - but they are also being recognised for their transformational social power: providing debt-free routes into areas that traditionally require a university education (such as law, geoscience and architecture.)

All the above being considered, there’s a strong signal from government and industry that apprenticeships are taking on increased prestige. However, it remains to be seen if this translates into increased intake (and increased completion).

Crunch time for EPAOs

Another ‘easter egg’ in all of these stories is a recurring date - Autumn 2024. That’s when we’ll see the first intake of new apprentice doctors, students able to apply for apprenticeships on UCAS’ website, and a significant overhaul to HTQs in Manufacturing and Engineering.

As exciting as this is, it adds even more pressure to EPAOs whose work already ramps up ahead of the start of each academic year.

As always, EPAOs will play a vital part in the success of this new generation of apprenticeships. Those that are adaptable, flexible and well-organised will find themselves trusted far more than those with outdated systems, poor communications channels, compliance concerns… and more spreadsheets than they can handle.

This is why tools such as epaPRO are vital in ensuring that, when new standards arrive - or faithful old standards constantly change - EPAOs can:

  • Communicate effectively and efficiently with assessors, apprentices, training providers and employers
  • Organise, update and maintain records with no fears of lost information and non-compliance with data protection laws.
  • Benefit from a single, streamlined platform to share files relevant to EPA, organise assessments and manage this crucial part of the apprentice journey.

Suffice it to say, the coming year will change the game for apprenticeships. The training providers, awarding bodies and employers who will make it happen will choose the EPAOs that can adapt the quickest.

For more updates and information on the changing apprenticeship landscape, stay tuned to our blog and follow us on LinkedIn.

Do you need to streamline your EPA management? You can still do so before the start of the new academic year - and with epaPRO, it’s a quick-fix that turns into a vehicle for long-term growth. If you’re interested, you can book a free demo today to see how it could transform your EPAO.