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New higher apprenticeships create work-based route to graduate professions

13 May 2015
Image representing New higher apprenticeships create work-based route to graduate professions
Nadia Steer, a current Higher Engineering Apprentice working at GE Aviation.

Gloucestershire College has unveiled a series of new higher apprenticeships across the engineering, IT and professional services that will be available from September, creating a new work-based route to graduate professions.

The 14 new higher level qualifications include Accounting; Business and Professional Administration; Care and Leadership Management; Cyber Security; Hospitality Management; Human Resource Management; Management; and Software, Web and Systems Management.

The new offer includes six Engineering-specific higher apprenticeships: Aeronautical Engineering; Aerospace Computer Systems or Electronic and Computer Systems Engineering; Electrical and Electronic Engineering; General Engineering; Mechanical Engineering; and Operations Engineering. Engineering is already the single largest delivery area of apprenticeships at the College.

Described by The Guardian as “a debt-free route to a top quality degree”, higher apprenticeships enable individuals to gain a degree level qualification as they earn a salary and gain professional accreditation, whilst benefiting from a clear pathway to achieving their career ambitions, a higher earning capacity, and increased recognition in the workplace.

For employers, higher apprentices enable them to meet their unique business needs, fill their higher level skills gaps and keep their business up-to-date with the latest techniques and technologies, as they train their higher apprentices to their own ways of working.

Higher apprenticeships range from Level 4, equivalent to a Higher National Certificate (HNC), to Level 6, equivalent to a Bachelor’s degree and, similar to intermediate and advanced apprenticeships, combine on-the-job training with studying towards a degree-level qualification.

Gloucestershire College is already working closely with GE Aviation in Cheltenham to deliver 25 higher engineering apprenticeships and develop its talent pipeline for the future. 23-year-old Higher Engineering Apprentice, Matthew Toms, really values his programme, saying it offers a “balance between working and learning”  for him. 

Peter White, Vice Principal at Gloucestershire College, said: “The launch of 14 higher apprenticeship frameworks this September is hugely exciting for businesses in the county. Gloucestershire College is a career-focused college and this offer provides a new work-based route into professions that have traditionally only been open to graduates.

“Given the increasing focus on rising university tuition fees, plus the shortage of skilled candidates in many industries, higher apprenticeships are an attractive choice for both ambitious, career-minded students and local employers.”

The popularity of higher apprenticeships continues to grow year on year, with 13,000 students in England undertaking this route in 2012-13, and the current number now standing at 19,100.

To make higher apprenticeships available to more businesses, the government has asked the Skills Funding Agency to support 20,000 higher apprenticeships by July 2015 and announced an additional £40m to fund places up until July 2015, plus an extra £20m to fund the higher educational element to the end of March 2016.

Prospective students and local businesses can find out more about engineering options at Gloucestershire College in an inspiring new GC The Movie. The professionally-produced mini movie sees current lecturers and Higher Engineering Apprentices offer a unique insight into the Engineering Department, alongside a behind-the-scenes look at the industry-standard facilities across the College’s electronic and mechanical engineering workshops at Gloucester Campus. See the video at

For more information about higher apprenticeships at Gloucestershire College, call the GC Business Hub on 01452 563400 or visit

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