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Building Pathways: apprenticeships as a route to higher education

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Purpose - This paper aims to present apprentices' perceptions of their opportunities for progressing to higher education. Data gained through semi-structured interviews with apprentices is placed in the context of the current policy agenda to widen participation in higher education and to increase the skills levels of those in employment. These policies are paramount for apprentices, many of whom fit both of these criteria. The research reported in this paper aims to answer the question "Do apprentices perceive there to be barriers in progressing to higher education?" Design/methodology/approach - In total 44 interviews were conducted with apprentices during college placements and further interviews were conducted with apprentices who had progressed to higher education courses (HNC and HND) at the same colleges. Findings - The findings show that employer support, time, finance and apprentices' perceptions of their own ability are the key factors that determine whether apprentices will progress to higher-level courses. The research highlights the need for a holistic approach to information, advice and guidance, ensuring that consistent and comprehensive information and advice are delivered to students. Originality/value - Although the research presented in this paper focuses on the engineering and construction apprenticeships, the implications and findings are also pertinent to other apprenticeship programmes.
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Keywords: Apprenticeships; Employers; Further Education; Higher Education

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2005-04-01

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