Degree apprenticeship: Move over classroom-only learning

A new report has noted that 92% of Indian universities and higher education institutes (HEIs) believe degree apprenticeships equip students better to meet the demands of the evolving workforce than regular degrees. Called the ‘Future of Apprenticeship in India’, this report by TeamLease EdTech added that the apprenticeship model equips students with basic work experience and essential soft skills, making them more employable.

What is a degree apprenticeship?

A degree apprenticeship is a job combined with a university degree, meaning a person / student will be working for an employer for some time and studying at university or college for the rest of the time. As against classroom-only learning that can be done in a relaxed manner — depending on the course one chooses — a degree apprenticeship can be far more intensive.

Skills crisis

Over the years, there have been multiple reports arguing that graduates fresh out of universities / HEIs aren’t employable. The recent India Skills Report 2022 by Wheebox noted that only 48.7% of total youth in India is employable. In 2019, a report by Aspiring Minds revealed that 80% of Indian engineers are not fit for any job in the knowledge economy.

“In India, we have a major skills crisis. There are about 12 million students who graduate every year, but only 35% of these are employable enough to join the industry, ”Shantanu Rooj, founder & CEO, TeamLease EdTech, told FE. “Degree apprenticeships are a solution to this crisis.”

Rooj added that HEIs in India strongly believe apprenticeship-embedded degrees are beneficial for students. Our report (Future of Apprenticeship in India) has indicated that 79% of universities and HEIs feel such programs provide practical hands-on skills to students, making them job-ready as they enter the workforce; and 71% feel that students learn the nuances of the corporate world better through such programs, ”he said.

Earn while you learn

The report also highlighted that apprenticeships create more value for students as they go through the learning curve, with 62% respondents stating that apprenticeships have created a sustainable cycle of learning by enabling students to earn while they learn. “This would go a long way in improving the gross enrollment ratio (GER) of the country by boosting the demand side,” Neeti Sharma, co-founder & president, TeamLease EdTech, said.

Sharma added that India has glaring dropout rates. “Between 10th grade and university education, close to 55% of students drop out of the learning ecosystem every year,” she said. “Degree apprenticeships, with ‘earning while learning’ embedded inside, are a credible option to address this challenge.”

Very few universities

The problem, however, is that only 4-5 universities today offer degree apprenticeships. This may change in the near future. Education sector analysts have noted that the National Education Policy 2020 has set the foundation for more universities to come forward and launch degree apprenticeship programs. “With more universities coming forward, the pool of employable apprenticeship aspirants is going to significantly increase,” an analyst told FE.

According to the recent Apprenticeship Hiring Outlook Report by NETAP from TeamLease Skills University, 72% of employers are keen to hire apprentices in H1-2022. This report had noted that 70% of universities and HEIs believe that with the introduction of new degree apprenticeship programs and a significant increase in the demand for hiring apprentices, India will have more than 10 million apprentices in the next five years, up from about half a million right now.

Globally, Germany has the maximum number of apprentices, at about 1.3 million, followed by the US (630,000) and India. But as a percentage of its total workforce, India has only 0.11% apprentices (the total workforce of the country is 457,779,812).

Long way to go…

India
Total workforce: 457,779,812
Apprentices: 500,000 (0.11%)

USA
Total workforce: 161,204,000
Apprentices: 630,000 (0.39%)

Germany
Total workforce: 43,517,000
Apprentices: 1,288,000 (2.96%)

Switzerland
Total workforce: 4,934,000
Apprentices: 212,000 (4.3%)

Australia
Total workforce: 13,746,000
Apprentices: 220,000 (1.6%)

Denmark
Total workforce: 3,062,000
Apprentices: 110,000 (3.6%)

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