Degree Apprenticeships – The Evidence Challenge
ALT Annual Conference 2018
Patrick Viney, Northumbria University


Session Description (edited - please see the 
full session description here)

The UK government aims to introduce 3 million new apprenticeships by 2020. A large proportion of these will be degree apprenticeships, combining university study with work-based learning. Degree apprenticeships are co-designed by employers, with the intention of addressing skills shortages in key industries. Universities collaborate with employers to design and deliver programmes of study that enable the apprentice to meet a set of apprenticeship ‘standards’. There is little doubt apprenticeships offer potential benefits for all stakeholders (employer, apprentice and university) if they choose to embrace this approach to upskilling the workforce. (Universities UK, 2017)
Whilst there are benefits for each stakeholder in a degree apprenticeship, there are also significant challenges. These include collaboration between employers and university programme teams; flexible delivery to suit the employer while still meeting the requirement that the apprentice spends 20% of their time completing ‘off-the-job learning’; and creating a synergy between the workplace and an apprentice’s university studies so that there is ‘a more formal link between learning in the workplace and learning in the classroom’ (Mulkeen et al, p.9)

Degree apprenticeships, thus present a complex challenge for universities. There is a need for appropriate technology-based solutions to:
• Encourage apprentices to habitually reflect on workplace learning, relating this to academic learning, and recording this for the duration of the apprenticeship
• Provide a platform for apprentices to collect and present evidence of achievement towards apprenticeship standards
• Provide a platform for apprentices to evidence that the logistical requirements of the apprenticeship have been met, e.g. recording 20% off-the-job training, mentor meetings and workplace visits
• Provide an appropriate learning programme and access to learning resources for workplace mentors
• Provide appropriate access and collaboration with employers in respect of individual apprentice progress

In this presentation I shall demonstrate how our university has developed and refined technology-based solutions to address these challenges, primarily using PebblePad and its associated assessment platform, ATLAS. This presentation will be of interest to delegates who are responsible for the design and implementation of degree apprenticeships at scale in their institution.