The much coveted undergraduate degree may seem unattainable to many; those that either simply don’t have sufficient finance, or don’t desire taking on the burden of a student loan, may feel they have been ultimately locked out of the system.

This has not helped with the already inflated view of elitism within the sector, nor in any way for the promotion of social mobility, especially for young people. Education and the creation of tomorrow’s workforce needs to be the primary focus, which, if it is to be successful, needs to be representative of all sections of our society.

There is an exhaustive list of benefits that come from time spent within university education. Not just the vast expansion of knowledge, but the life skills, social learning and the creation of personal and professional networks; these are benefits that must not be restricted to the few.

Thankfully, many institutions are now offering an alternative route for those who may not have found the idea of a traditional pathway degree appealing nor accessible. The benefit of degree apprenticeships within business has been well documented, namely in the form of the Apprenticeship Levy, and there are enormous benefits of this programme for the students who enrol.

“As a Degree Apprenticeship Mentor, I find it both incredibly exciting and deeply rewarding to witness the effects of this educational offering.”

As a Degree Apprenticeship Mentor, I find it both incredibly exciting and deeply rewarding to witness the effects of this educational offering. By removing the prospect of years of student loan repayments, HEIs are opening up professional opportunities that even many graduates of some traditional pathway degrees are not able to reach. I have seen this instill an incredible sense of self-worth and confidence in students who perhaps felt that they did not ‘fit’ within the perception of traditional higher education.

This form of apprenticeship is breaking down the perceived barriers of gaining that all elusive degree. It levels the playing field. The apprentices that I work with come from a myriad of socio-economic backgrounds and they’re thriving. I can see few better ways currently of ensuring that ALL talent in our country is embraced, celebrated and most importantly, encouraged.

I feel strongly that higher education providers and businesses have a social responsibility to work together and be directly involved in the education and creation of tomorrow’s workforce, and not just because of a levy, but because they are genuinely invested in their future employees and this country’s economic success. From the students I’m speaking to each day, the proof is in the pudding.