Why nearly 50% of graduates would consider doing an apprenticeship

  • Becky Kells
  • 04 January 2019

There’s a reason why graduates are interested in apprenticeships—and why employers should market them to graduates as well.

It’s tempting to perceive the apprentice market and the graduate market as two different groups, with completely different career interests. Some employers subscribe to the myth that apprenticeships are for school leavers and should be marketed towards school leavers, while graduates should be pointed in the direction of graduate jobs.


In reality, marketing Higher and Degree Apprenticeships at soon-to-be or recent graduates should be the next step for recruiters. Employers from a variety of industries are already doing this, recognising the value that graduates add to their apprenticeship programmes, as well as the enthusiasm that graduates have for this type of role. We predict that marketing Higher and Degree Apprenticeships to university students will be mainstream within 24 months.  


The facts


As Higher and Degree Apprenticeships become better understood by school leavers, their appeal has risen: even among those who are considering going to university. Out of the school leavers we surveyed in 2018, over 38% said that they would do an apprenticeship after completing a university degree.


Additionally, soon-to-be graduates who know about apprenticeships are noticing the appeal of them. Over 47% of graduates would consider doing an apprenticeship after completing university: almost half of graduates.


Employers with foresight have responded by marketing to these students: 30% of employers are actively marketing to—and recruiting—graduates for their apprenticeships.


Why it is happening?


The nature of a Degree Apprenticeship means that those who complete it will come away with a degree as well as years of tailored on-the-job training. So why are graduates—who have just devoted three years or more to obtaining a degree and accumulated more than £50,000 in debt—seeking this option?


There are a number of reasons. Doing an apprenticeship as a graduate provides the chance to build a close relationship with an employer, network within the company and undergo role-specific training tailored to the current and future role.


A key consideration for any student deciding between a Degree Apprenticeship and a graduate pathway would be salary. Graduate-scheme starting salaries are still slightly higher than those offered to Degree Apprentices, but once you factor in the degree costs—paid in full by the employer—the pay difference makes a lot more sense.


For example, business-management graduate schemes tend to pay a starting salary of £25,000. The chartered business-management degree with IBM has a starting salary of £18,000, while the EY Degree Apprenticeship in business leadership and management pays up to £21,750 as a starting salary. A digital-marketing graduate scheme at a media agency pays £23,000 per year, while a digital-marketing Degree Apprenticeship at Nestle pays £17,200 plus benefits. While there’s still a salary difference, it’s a small one when the lack of student debt is considered.


Ultimately, students will have their individual reasons for taking on a Degree Apprenticeship after graduating. The key takeaway is that students believe that an apprenticeship can work in addition to a graduate degree, rather than instead of it—and employers should respond by including these prospective candidates in their marketing efforts.


So what’s in it for you?


Any organisation still part of the 70% not marketing their Degree Apprenticeships to graduates should be aware of the value they can add to the business, in apprenticeship roles as well as graduate jobs. A graduate comes complete with a detailed academic record of the past three years, so you have a good sense of their ability to fulfil the academic strain of the apprenticeship. Graduates will already be used to university-level study and exams, so will effectively balance on-the-job and off-the-job learning.


Having spent several years in a university environment, graduates are also at a mature point in their education where they may have a good idea of what they want out of their career. A graduate applicant for a Degree Apprenticeship will have arrived at that option after considering many others, including graduate jobs and further study. It’s likely that they’ve decided on a Degree Apprenticeship after careful consideration.


Finally, recruiters know full well that some roles can be hard to fill. Broadening the scope of your apprenticeship marketing to include graduates as well as school leavers will introduce more applicants into the fold, and will increase your chances of finding the right person for that role.


How to market to graduates


One of the most effective methods of extending your marketing efforts towards graduates is by meeting them face-to-face. A great way to do this is via insight events for undergraduates. It might be that you’re already hosting insight events about graduate schemes—take this one step further by including apprenticeships. Undergraduates will be able to explore their options at your company side-by-side, considering the benefits and drawbacks of graduate schemes and apprenticeships on the same day.


Organising insight days such as this is our forte—we’re already doing it for employers across the UK and can even help to pre-screen the students for you.


If you’d like more information about this service, please email Tom Clark at tom.clark@allaboutgroup.org