What is an Apprenticeship?
To offer a very simple definition of an Apprenticeship – it is a job with a structured training programme
It is helpful to think of HDAs as a specific subset of the WBL ethos that already exists within many courses. All HDA apprentices are both employees and students – working for their employer whilst studying part-time – so WBL is an essential part of the HDA ethos.
Work based learning
A relationship between HDAs and WBL more generally
A working definition for employer engagement at SHU adapted from Nixon et al (2006):
‘Learning that takes place at, through, for and from work to meet the needs and aspirations of individuals and the organisations they work for’.
• learning through work – learning while working
• learning for work – learning how to do new or existing things better
• learning at work – learning that takes place in the workplace
• learning from work – ‘curriculum’ that grows out of the experience of the learner, their work context and their community of practice.
Work Based Learning might include applied learning. However, Applied learning might simulate the real world, it might help prepare learners for the real world and align their learning to real world benchmarks and expectations.
Whilst Apprenticeship work based learning may include applied learning, we might explain Apprenticeship work based learning as at an end of a spectrum – the work place is the key source of learning and the study programme underpins and helps structure that learning.
Therefore in many respects Apprenticeships are the epitome of Work Based learning. It is critical that the University programme that supports the apprenticeship recognises the priority given to knowledge skills and behaviours developed from the course but most effectively and cumulatively in the workplace. It is critical that the design and delivery of the curriculum allows the learner to demonstrate, advance and evidence learning from work. Whilst theories, concepts and technique are critical in higher education, the WBL Assessment and supporting curriculum should empower the WB learner to find their own evidence of learning. SHU offers a good practice guide on WBL Assessment accompanied by case studies.
QAA Work-based Learning advice and guidance here
Some existing WBL-orientated courses may be well-placed for conversion to offer HDA provision. Others will need to be developed according to employer and market needs. The Work-Based Learning Framework (WBLF) outlines the range of course structure options and core WBL module requirements to support the development of HDA provision.
Apprenticeship Essentials – External Stakeholders
Sheffield Hallam University remains accountable to it’s Board of Governors and it’s degree provision (including Degree Apprenticeships) are subject to the Quality Assurance Agency oversight, like our other Higher Education provision (see above link).
In addition, the University delivers ‘Higher Apprenticeships’ which are level 4 or above, but do not contain a degree qualification (e.g. they might be based on a level 4 certificate or a non-accredited programme of CPD). These programmes are in scope for Ofsted inspection – going forward this will be under the Education Inspection Framework.
Moreover, there are two key players who add to the mix of macro-Governance factors and have significant external influence over the University’s apprenticeship portfolio and how it operates.
Further information around IFA and ESFA (funding) can be found here
Registers and funding (etc)
For information about The Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers (“The Register), ESFA Non-Levi Contract, The Sub-contracting Register and The Register of End Point Assessment Organisations (RoEPAO), A document explaining these can be found here
The ESFA funding rules specify that all apprentices must be given 20% off-the-job training (or calculated as 6 hours per week from August 2022). What does this mean?
In short an Apprentice must work at least 30 hours in a working week in an appropriate job role. Over the course of an apprenticeship (up to the practical gateway) the apprentice must on average spend 20% (or 6 hours per week) of their contracted working hours in “off-the-job training”. This is an average over the duration of the apprenticeship, up to the point of practical completion, also known as the “gateway” to End Point Assessment).
More information about this can be found here
Embedding Apprenticeship Essentials
More information on the University’s approach to Embedding Apprenticeship Essentials can be found here: