Apprenticeships can place you on a level playing field with university graduates and people with advanced degrees. Expertise gained during an apprenticeship can be applied to many different positions, including those outside of your specific field of study. Acquiring these skills will not only increase your confidence but will allow you to compete with people who may have had opportunities you did not, including those who had advantages that allowed them to attend prestigious universities.

What is social equity in the workplace?

Is an apprenticeship as good as a degree?

Do companies actively seek out employees with apprenticeships?

What is social equity in the workplace?

Social equity in employment is the process of making sure that everyone has the same opportunity to succeed regardless of their background, identity or circumstances. It is achieved, in a nutshell, by giving a head start to those who come from disadvantaged social positions.

Traditionally, access to the most pronounced social mobility was reserved for people who attended prestigious universities—such as red brick or Russell Group universities. In order to create greater social equity, progressive employers have begun to leverage talent from outside this exclusive socioeconomic group.

Nestlé, for instance, signed up to the Social Mobility Business Compact launched by former Deputy PM Nick Clegg as far back as 2011. The goal is to ensure that opportunities to development are not limited by a person’s educational background or other socioeconomic factors.

Apprenticeships are great enablers of social equity because they help to showcase and develop the talent of people who haven’t had access to prestigious educations. They help to ensure that the career possibilities of qualified apprentices are no less limited than those who studied for respected degree qualifications.

Is an apprenticeship as good as a degree?

Different levels of apprenticeship offer students different levels of outcome. As such, the level of apprenticeship you undertake will determine what depth of knowledge you are able to draw from it.

If you were to study an advanced apprenticeship (Level 3), for instance, you would have the equivalent of two A Level passes, which isn’t the same as having a degree. However, if you were to study for a Level 6 apprenticeship, you would actually attain a degree qualification, while a Level 7 apprenticeship would give you a master’s degree.

Here at Nestlé, for example, we offer different levels of apprenticeships, enabling with various educational goals to earn while they learn. Whilst we also offer a range of graduate programmes as an entry point into our company, we do not qualitatively distinguish between the two routes—apprentices and graduates are viewed as offering the same employment value to our business.

Generally, companies tend to value graduates for their theoretical knowledge and transferrable, top-down skills while valuing apprentices for their practical knowledge and employment-based, bottom-up approach. However, as apprenticeships and graduate programmes become ever more closely aligned, the gap between the two groups is blurring.

Do companies actively seek out employees with apprenticeships?

Because apprenticeships are delivered by companies in conjunction with external training providers, you might wonder if they are qualifications recognised by other employers. The good news is that—yes—apprenticeships are nationally recognised qualifications.

When an apprentice completes their training, they walk away with a diploma just like a university graduate does. This is evidence of the level and quality of their training and is recognised by Ofqual as a reliable indicator of the knowledge and skills they have acquired.

A person who has completed their apprenticeship with a well-respected company like Nestlé (the world’s largest food and drinks company) can expect to be viewed by future employers with the same level of respect as someone who has completed a degree programme at a well-respected university.

Looking for something else to read? Take a look at our article on How Apprenticeships can Benefit People from Diverse Communities.

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