India needs Degree-linked Apprenticeship for both students and employers

Linkage between students and employers

A significant number of students and employed learners believe apprenticeship-linked degrees are more useful as employability is fast becoming the key outcome that learners are expecting from higher education, says a survey. According to this survey, nearly 71.18 per cent students interviewed prefer a degree that embeds some form of practical training or upskilling, of which 65.41 per cent believe that apprenticeship-linked degrees are more useful than the traditional degrees with schools and colleges. 

How do Degree-linked Apprenticeships work?

Degree-linked Apprenticeships are a perfect way for students to not only learn valuable skills from their workplace, but also work towards earning a university degree. The flexible study paths are built around keeping a student in the place of employment so that they can continue on with practical learning; building up both skill sets at once. Apprenticeship students are mentored by experienced and skilled people who can pass on their knowledge to them. They also get the advantage of having practical training at the workplace which allows them to work in different sectors whilst being trained in an industry they have chosen. This is done by firstly doing small tasks that allow the trainee to get used to their working environment, progress into doing bigger tasks and eventually taking over a few basic day-to-day jobs so that the apprentice gains valuable experience in his field and can therefore excel in whatever job he/she chooses when the program is completed!

Also Read: Apprenticeships in the electronics and electrical sector

Employers have been vocal about the gap between the skills their current employees possess and the skills needed for the position. Asking fresher candidates to adapt to their working environment could be difficult, causing a disadvantage for them compared with more experienced professionals from other companies looking for new challenges who would more easily slot into an existing company structure. However, if these companies were able to hire apprentices who are still studying and accumulating practical skills in a university/college program tailored specifically for their needs as employers, then these students might not only catch up quickly on relevant skills and knowledge but also offer added value in form of being more open-minded and being able to adapt to different work environments quicker.

On the other side, companies are living in a rapidly changing and evolving world- this means that it is important to secure and retain a highly skilled workforce. 

“Degree apprenticeship programs can provide opportunity to the employers to create their own workforce without waiting fruitlessly for skilled employees to walk through their doors.”

And they can make sure these innovatively designed programs reflect employer needs, providing skills and knowledge that employers know and value. 

Benefits of a degree apprenticeship for students

  • The main benefit of doing a degree apprenticeship compared to the traditional university route is that students get access to the practical skills with on-job training. They get an edge over the new hires who come with a degree but no experience in the industry. 
  • Working like a full time employee gives a better understanding of the processes. 
  • Since most of the population of India is in an economically weaker section of the society, earning a stipend while working as well as learning, is like a motivation to perform better. 
  • Apprentices also develop ‘soft skills’ from their mentors such as communication skills, the ability to work under pressure to deadlines, teamwork and problem-solving skills. 
  • The support and mentorship from seniors give them a sense of direction of how they want their professional life to look like. 
  • Learning at university is put straight into practice, helping develop understanding of the material
  • By the time apprenticeship ends they’ll have at least three years of networking experience and have made contacts that’ll help also later on in your career.
  • If performed exceptionally, there’s a chance of getting absorbed in the same company. Otherwise, with this vast experience they are anyway job-ready to perform in any other organization. 

Benefits of Apprenticeship programs for employers

  • Recruiting and developing a highly-skilled workforce that helps grow their business 
  • Improved productivity, profitability, and an employer’s bottom line 
  • Create a flexible training options that ensure workers develop the right skills as per the company’s requirements
  • Minimize hiring costs of employees from outside
  • Receive tax credits and employee tuition benefits in participating states
  • Increase retention of talent, during and following the apprenticeship

Role of government promoting Degree-linked apprenticeship

The solution provided by several governments to close this skills gap is to get the prospective workers the skills training they need, but did you know that many of them feel as though their schools and colleges aren’t really equipped to provide them with the right kind of hands-on training? It’s true! Think about it: when was the last time you were required to use a sewing machine or write some code in order to pass an exam? Businesses, on the other hand, need prospective employees who are able to think critically and have leadership abilities – which means they must have qualities like these! Degree apprenticeship programs that combine a full degree tailored specifically to the employer’s needs with several years of practical skills gained at the workplace will be much more effective at providing both employers and students with what they want than simply teaching students in classrooms where there is nothing but theory.

Government will still have a role to play but only in vital areas. They need to let people know that it is important for them to subsidize the stipends of the apprentices, certify that the apprentices meet certain skills qualifications and also keep everyone up-to-date on what is going on with their certifications throughout the journey. By doing this, universities and colleges along with other employers will become more involved with the process and should thus help apprentices align themselves towards future goals- like employment through degree-apprenticeships. 

Doing so will make it possible for these types of degrees to eventually have prestige value which is considered just as high as any conventional college degree.