Hertfordshire Business Higher/Degree Apprenticeship Survey 2015

  • Brown, Christopher (PI)

Project: Consultancy

Project Details


The purpose of the Hertfordshire Business Higher Apprenticeship Survey (HBHDAS) research was to explore Hertfordshire businesses understanding, perceived attractiveness and use of higher/degree apprenticeships, and the perceived potential impact these would have on businesses performance.
In October 2013, in response to the ‘Richard Review’ (2012) of apprenticeships, the government set out its plans to reform Apprenticeships in England by replacing the existing Apprenticeship frameworks with employer-led standards. To support this reform, they established the Trailblazers – groups led by employers and professional bodies – to develop these new Apprenticeship standards (www.fisss.org). There are 16 Sector Skills Councils (SSC) and 5 sector skills bodies who work with 550,000 employers to define skills needs and skills standards in their industry.
Previous studies of employer evaluation of apprenticeships have acknowledged the potential barriers from employers in engaging an apprentice, the BIS survey of 2012-13 collected 4,009 employer perspectives[1], from those who had recently finished an apprenticeship programme. Holt’s review in May 2012 was commissioned by the Secretaries of State for Education and Business, innovation and skills, to assess the responsiveness of the apprenticeship programme to address SME employer needs[2]. The findings showed that like any government support initiative it has to be shown to deliver ‘value for money’ to employers. A recent BIS research study in the ‘Value for Money’ of adult apprenticeships revealed that the economic return from apprenticeships was £24-£35 for every £1 of government funding[3].
This HBHDAS research collected data from over 250 Hertfordshire employers, through one-to-one telephone questionnaires, focus groups and one-to-one interviews. Just under one third of respondents had employed an apprentice in the last 3 years. However, only 13% of these had experience of higher/degree apprenticeships, with the remaining only having a little or no knowledge at all. Of those who had no previous apprenticeship experience, when informed of the benefits and costs of higher/degree apprenticeships, over 27% were interested in knowing more. Once more details were supplied then over 73% of those expressed an interest to engage a higher/degree apprentice in the near future.
In conclusion, few Hertfordshire businesses acknowledge a knowledge or understanding of higher/degree apprenticeships. Yet when presented with the information the majority are interested to find out more, and over 20% of these would subsequently engage an apprentice.

Layman's description

This report presents findings from the HBHDAS study into Hertfordshire businesses understanding, perceived attractiveness and use of higher/degree apprenticeships, and the perceived potential impact these would have on businesses performance. The report draws heavily on previous government, independent bodies (UVAC, HEIs, and professional institutions) and employer based published research, particularly those driven by the government’s latest apprenticeship reforms. These reforms have targeted employers to work with professional bodies and other third-party agencies to develop nationally recognized apprenticeships standards – short, succinct documents that define the knowledge, skills and behaviours for occupations and related high-level assessment plans (Trailblazers)[4]. The differentiation between a higher apprentice and a degree apprentice is that the latter includes the achievement of a full bachelor’s or master’s degree.

Key findings

In the recent Richard Review of 2012, stressed was placed on the importance of design, support and consistent messaging from all parts of the apprenticeship training industry “to ensure that in the future the programme is meeting the needs of the changing economy, consistently delivers the professionally recognized qualifications and skills which employers and learners need, and is maximizing the impact of government”[25]. In this HBHDAS employers were consistent in being concerned that:
• Hertfordshire Business Higher/Degree Apprenticeship Survey and national studies continue to highlight the relatively low awareness of employers to both the existence of higher/degree apprenticeships, and even those who have previously engaged with apprenticeship programmes. Training providers are important for recruiting employers onto the apprenticeship, however, the national findings suggest that improvements could be made on how these providers are presenting higher/degree apprenticeships to their existing business clients?
• Apprenticeship information, support and guidance should be focused on the smaller businesses, with a particular focus on ‘who should they approach’, ‘what funding is available’, ‘what are the apprenticeship requirements and benefits from employing an apprentice’, and lastly clearer indication of ‘where to seek personal advice and support’;
• Those who already have apprentices on intermediate and advanced apprenticeship programmes, with high levels of satisfaction, that standards will be maintained on higher/degree apprenticeship programmes;
• That the new employer-led apprenticeship standards will meet both their higher-skills requirements, but simpler to access and be government supported;
• That they play their role in promoting apprenticeships by joining networks like the Hertfordshire & South Cambridgeshire Ambassadors Network, and also where they already employ apprentices to use “we employ apprentices” logos on their websites and letterheads;
Short titleHertfordshire Degree Apprenticeship Survey
Effective start/end date1/03/1531/07/15


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.