Hertfordshire Business Higher/Degree Apprenticeship Survey 2015
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, 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. 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. 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.