Computer Science degree apprenticeships are a popular choice for students heading to university, according to a poll by Cheltenham-headquartered UCAS of students applying to study in 2022. Of those who expressed an interest in degree apprenticeships, 65.2 per cent picked Computer Science, a close second to Engineering.
But more needs to be done to banish the perception of apprenticeships as being less prestigious than more traditional university routes, says Swindon-based BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT. According to Clare Marchant, the UCAS chief executive, there is ‘misplaced snobbery’ and an ‘outdated stigma’ associated with such programmes.
Plus, says UCAS, there’s is a lack of accessible information about apprenticeships. Annette Allmark, Head of Apprenticeships at BCS said: “We know of fantastic examples of successful apprentices, where individuals have gone straight into industry, gained invaluable workplace skills and experience – and got their degree.
“The fact that 76% of people in the UCAS poll associated the word ‘prestigious’ with a university degree, but only 4% with an apprenticeship, shows more education is needed, especially from careers advisors – but also more widely via, for instance, social media campaigns to change perceptions.
“We know, as a professional body, that apprentices are skilled and competent. We carry out the final test that digital apprentices have to take to prove they can do their job – an end-point assessment. We have seen an ongoing increase in the numbers we process, which shows the popularity of this career path and progression onto degree apprenticeships.
“It’s also a great choice for sectors of society which, traditionally, have seen the least participation in higher education.”
Choosing to undertake a digital apprenticeship, whether at degree level or not, makes sense, said Alex Burns, a member of the BCS Apprentice Focus Group: “When considering what my options were, an apprenticeship was the most logical choice to gain work experience, qualifications and it’s a great way to meet other professionals in the field.”
The UCAS survey also found a third of students at schools, and half in colleges, were not told about apprenticeships, despite it being a legal requirement placed on schools to do so, known as the Baker clause in England.
UCAS research of parents and carers found that almost one in three were unaware that students could apply for a degree apprenticeship alongside an undergraduate application. Unsurprisingly, parents who had taken an apprenticeship themselves are twice as likely to encourage their child to follow in their footsteps rather than choose an undergraduate degree.