Image: Rich Tea Image: Rich Tea

Degree apprenticeships are the solution to deliver work-ready skills for businesses and meet the high-level skills shortages, according to a leading university.

The concern surrounding the lack of access to high-level skills affects an all-time high of 69% of businesses, meaning the alignment between corporate need and education provision an issue of the highest priority.

The Open University said that the upcoming apprenticeship levy provides an unparalleled opportunity to create this alignment.

The university recently announced its collaboration with Big Four auditor KPMG, to provide an apprenticeship service that enables employers to identify and fulfill their future training need.

Steve Hill, external engagement director, The Open University said that collaborations between businesses and education providers can be “really fruitful” when practice-based learning is embedded into the workplace.

The partnership between The Open University and KPMG will combine the auditor’s expertise in workforce analysis with the university’s experience in delivering training for businesses.

This is built through their provision of training for 2,400 UK organisations to date, including 80 of the FTSE 100.

Initially, three higher level apprenticeships will be provided, focusing on three areas in which the UK is suffering a particularly acute skills gap: healthcare, management and digital solutions.

Mr Hill said apprenticeships are perfectly designed to bring together business and education because they bridge the gap between learning and doing.

He added: “The so-called ‘learning-doing gap’ can arise where classroom learning is not aligned with the demands of day-to-day employment. Without the immediacy of practical application, efforts to train staff will often result in ‘inert’ knowledge.

“This is where the new Degree apprenticeship provides something really exciting for businesses. Employers will be able to benefit from employees whose education is relevant to their workplace, with academic learning taking place beside practical application.

“In addition, when training is delivered online, anyone undertaking a Degree apprenticeship can study alongside their work commitments, accessing material when and where it suits them.”

The leading trade body, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) hosted a summit on Monday to examine how UK businesses and education providers can deliver the skills for business success. The event will have drawn attention to the collaborations between business and education.

Mr Hill added: “New apprenticeship opportunities have the potential to provide high quality, scalable and accessible education which is in line with corporate goals, and this must not go unrecognised in the run up to the levy.”