In this article we discuss the impact the circumstance surrounding Covid-19 has had on degreee aprenticeships.

As the United Nations warns of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds being “disproportionately affected” by Coronavirus (COVID-19), providing career and job opportunities will be crucially important as the UK moves forward [1]. 

The latest Social Mobility Commission poll shows that access to apprenticeships was the only area where more than half of respondents (57%) felt there were equal opportunities for poorer people [2]. Overall, apprenticeships were believed to be the best opportunity for young people to progress. 

In addition, 34% of our current STEM apprentices are women [3], which represents a substantial improvement on the national average of 22% reported by the Office for Students [4].

The importance of apprenticeships is emphasised by the Chair of the Education Committee, Robert Halfon, who said recently:

“Now more than ever the government and higher education providers must do everything possible to tear down the barriers to degree apprenticeships, sweep away the cobwebs of bureaucracy and to move both quickly and decisively to support our more disadvantaged learners.”


Degree apprenticeships combine working with studying part-time at a university. They are a great route to an exciting new career or for employees wanting to develop their skills and capabilities, with the support of their employer.

At Manchester Metropolitan University, a leading provider of degree apprenticeships, young people from deprived areas make up 41% of our current degree apprenticeship cohorts [5].

Laboratory Scientist Degree Apprentices at Manchester Metropolitan [3]

The programmes offer a powerful combination of academic learning and on-the-job training, giving young people the opportunity to ‘earn while you learn’.  Crucially, they provide excellent opportunities for disadvantaged young people, which will be vital as the UK recovers from the Coronavirus pandemic.

At Manchester Metropolitan we are working closely with employer partners who are keen to improve the diversity of their workforce. We also have non-standard entry procedures and open views on subject choice admissions, which has been key.

We recently became the first-ever university to win an AAC Apprenticeship Award, recognising our high level of engagement with employers and apprentices as well as our sustained commitment to working with employers in the digital sector – particularly in the way our provision adapts to meet employer requirements.

Degree apprenticeships are just one initiative that employers are using to increase the diversity of their workforce and to tackle fair access to the labour market.

The number of degree apprenticeships available in the UK has grown rapidly, from 756 in 2015/16 to 13,587 in 2018/19 [5]. In 2020, over 2,000 Degree Apprentices are expected to be on programme at Manchester Metropolitan University alone.

For more information on how the Manchester Met Apprenticeships team is responding to the Covid-19 outbreak, or for more details on how to apply for an apprenticeship, visit our dedicated webpage [6].


[1] 2020. ‘Lockdown generation’ of young workers will need extra help after COVID-19, urges UN labour chief. [online] [Accessed 14/04/21]

[2] 2020. Social mobility barometer poll results for 2019. [online] [Accessed 14/04/21]

[3] 2020. University’s Degree Apprenticeships helping to close the STEM gender gap [online] [Accessed 14/04/21]

[4] 2020. STEM Women to Host Virtual Event for Students and Graduates Based in London and the Home Counties. [online] [Accessed 14/04/21]

[5] 2020. Degree Apprenticeships will provide vital opportunities for the ‘Covid Generation’. [online] [Accessed 14/04/21]

[6] 2020. Degree Apprenticeships. [online] [Accessed 14/04/21]

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In this article we discuss the impact the circumstance surrounding Covid-19 has had on degreee aprenticeships.

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