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Research project: Finding Their Way into Careers: an Analysis of Advanced Apprenticeships and Progression in Health Care

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This project builds on the now completed Hampshire and Isle of Wight Lifelong Learning Network (HI-LLN)-funded project ‘Finding their Way? Advanced Apprenticeship as a route to HE'. Apprenticeship schemes are increasingly being promoted as a route to health and clinical careers. However evidence indicates that HE providers are not recognising the level or worth of the qualification.

The study aims are therefore to:

  1. Examine the specific opportunities open to Advanced Apprentices to enter HE in the South Central patch and to identify these.
  2. Deepen our understanding of the workforce and career progression opportunities open to Advanced Apprentices in health care.
  3. Detail the opportunities and challenges presented to health care learners and employers in available marketing information, in HI -LLN and South Central LLN progression agreements, in Skills for Health and UCAS information, and in articulation and progression arrangements between education providers in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
  4. Share findings with training / education providers and commissioners regionally and nationally through conferences, reports and papers.
    Recommendations will focus upon improving information available to and opportunities open to learners.

Progression into Higher Education (HE) from Advanced Apprenticeship (AA) programmes has been found to be minimal, with only between two and six per cent enrolling in HE up to four years after completing their award (Gittoes, 2008; Seddon, 2005). Support from government for improved progression through the UCAS tariff system (DBIS, 2009) has not impacted yet. Recommendations to improve understanding of vocational qualifications and develop better progression were made in a recent review of work-based qualifications (Carter, 2009). This study builds upon such work and our own findings in a broader study of seven occupational areas in Hants / IoW.

This earlier project looked at HE progression routes available to people studying AAs, finding that although the proportion of 19 year olds achieving Level 3 via AA and National Vocational Qualification (NVQ)3 is increasing (DIUS 2008), little is known about their rate of progression to HE (Fuller et al, 2010). AAs are being promoted by government as an important route for support roles and entry to clinical training yet evidence suggests that progression opportunities are not clearly defined or linked, either in AA Frameworks or by HE providers. Foundation degrees provide a potential route through to both career opportunities and clinical disciplines however most do not cite AAs in entry criteria.

Key informants told us that even those familiar with vocational programmes understand little about the particular demands made of the AA or the skills and knowledge they offer. Yet numbers are rising; starts rose from 74 in 2005 to 290 in 2008. Overall participation figures for the same period have risen from 167 to 549 making health one of the largest sectors for growth (Fuller et al, 2010). Given the rapidly changing context of health care and the need for well trained and educated staff to take forward its pressing agenda, identifying barriers to clear progression in career terms (work and education) is urgently needed if the vocational, work-based learner is to compete in the workplace and in HE. The planned move to an all-graduate nursing workforce only reinforces the importance of valued, alternative routes into care roles.

The project builds and develops themes in the completed: ‘Finding their Way? Advanced Apprenticeship as a route to HE'.

Project team

Fuller, A., Wintrup, J., Turbin, J.

Related groups

Work Futures Research Centre

Project funder

Hampshire and IoW Lifelong Learning Network / HEFCE

Associated research themes

  • Workforce development NHSResearch group

Related research groups

Health Work and Systems
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