Think apprenticeships are just for trades and vocational qualifications? Think again. Higher and degree apprenticeships have been growing in popularity, widening your options for work and training after school. But what exactly are they, and what makes them different from other apprenticeships? Let’s find out.
What is a higher or degree apprenticeship?
Higher and degree apprenticeships are structured learning programs that combine on-the-job training with formal education. They may also be called co-operative (or co-op) programs, dual study programmes, work-study degrees, or professional apprenticeships.
The main difference between higher and degree apprenticeships and “normal” apprenticeships is the level of study – higher and degree apprenticeships often lead to qualifications like a diploma, advanced diploma, or even a full bachelor’s or master’s degree.
Think of them a bit like internships, except you get to start working from day one of your course instead of needing to wait until your penultimate year (and you’re paid too). So by the time you’ve finished, you’ll have a full qualification, some savings, and heaps of work experience under your belt compared to your peers.
What are the benefits of a higher or degree apprenticeship?
We just touched on one potential benefit above, but there are heaps of others too, including:
- Earning a wage while you learn: which you can use however you wish, whether you want to pay off your course fees or save for a new car.
- Develop practical skills: by the time you finish your program, you’ll have heaps of practical transferable skills under your belt, putting you ahead of students with no work experience.
- Build industry connections: being out in the workforce will help you make valuable contacts and network with mentors who can give you helpful advice.
- Have a clear career pathway: higher and degree apprenticeships are usually structured in a way that means you’ll have the skills and knowledge to jump right into a specific job or industry.
- Enjoy balanced learning: if sitting around in the classroom with your nose in a textbook all day isn’t for you, then the opportunity for real, hands-on experience is even more valuable.
How do higher and degree apprenticeships work?
The exact structure of your higher or degree apprenticeship will differ depending on where you study, what you study, and the employer you work for. But they do follow some general rules.
Just like other apprenticeships, you’ll typically split your time between working for an employer and attending classes. You might split your time daily, weekly, or even by semester or term.
Degree and higher apprenticeships can last anywhere between three and six years in length, depending on the qualification. So if you’re concerned that you’ll take longer than other students to graduate, that’s not necessarily the case (plus, even if you do, you’ll still have heaps more skills and experience under your belt anyway).
Once you finish your higher or degree apprenticeship, you’ll graduate with a formal qualification, plus have real work experience to add to your resume. Graduates often receive job offers from the company they completed their apprenticeship with, so you might even be able to dive straight into full-time work.
What industries are higher and degree apprenticeships available in?
Higher and degree apprenticeships are most commonly found in these industries:
- Computing and IT
- Business and Management
- Finance and Accounting
This doesn’t mean there are no opportunities in other industries – in fact, as their popularity grows, more and more options are gradually opening up.
Where can I find out more?
You can find more information on higher and degree apprenticeships here:
- Australian Apprenticeship Pathways
- UCAS (UK)
- Cooperative Education and Internship Association (USA)
- Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning Canada
- SkillsFuture (Singapore)