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Theme 3: Ensuring Progression at All Levels

The evidence of changing skill requirements within the automotive sector shows how these changes will impact at all skill levels. This underlines the importance of developing apprenticeships serving the sector at every level, including higher levels, in order to meet these changing needs. 

The current situation across the EU with respect to higher level apprenticeships is quite variable. While the apprenticeship offer in France, Italy, Germany and the UK include higher level pathways the focus in Sweden, Romania and Hungary is lower/intermediate level (EQF levels 2-4).  

  • In Germany, higher or degree-level apprenticeships are part of the dual system university programmes that combine learning at both a higher education institution and a company. 
  • In France they also exist in the form of ‘alternance’ arrangements in some university programmes [1]
  • In Italy, one of the different types of apprenticeship models is a ‘Higher education and research apprenticeship’ for those aged 18 to 29. The apprenticeship for higher education and training leads to a university degree, doctorate or higher technical institute diploma.
  • In the UK, higher apprenticeships were first introduced (equivalent to foundation degrees or above) in 2010 and in 2015, Degree Apprenticeships were introduced as part of higher apprenticeship standards, seeing apprentices achieving a full bachelor’s or master’s degree (Levels 6 and 7) [2] as a core component of the apprenticeship [3]. Both Higher and Degree Apprenticeships must last a minimum of one year; Degree Apprenticeships in particular will last longer, typically up to four years, though there is no fixed maximum duration. A range of higher level apprenticeships of relevance to the automotive sector are now either in place in England or under development. 

Recent research undertaken by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) [4] has identified a number of challenges in relation to applying an apprenticeship model to higher education  including the need for higher education institutes: 

  • to work in partnership with employers to design and organise training programmes 
  • to find enough placements in industry for the work place component of apprenticeships which is often the majority of apprenticeship time
  • to play a supporting role to industry

These challenges will need to be addressed in order to achieve a more widespread adoption of higher level/degree level apprenticeships. 

It will also be important to ensure barriers to progression are addressed so that learners can progress through different levels using a mixture of apprenticeship and other provision, irrespective of whether they are starting at ground level, need higher level qualifications or something in between.  

[1] Alternance training contracts are available for the recruitment of young people aged between 16 and 25 years (with certain exceptions which may extend this bracket to 30 years) and are based on alternating between formal lessons dispensed within a recognised training institution and on the job professional experience in the recruiting enterprise itself.
[2] This is equivalent to EQF levels 6 and 7
[4] ILO Toolkit for Quality Apprenticeships – Volume 2: Guide for Practitioners; Module 6. Innovations and strategies in apprenticeships; Edited by: Ashwani Aggarwal; Skills and Employability Branch, Employment Policy Department International Labour Organization 2020​​​
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