Can you credit it? Towards a process for ascribing credit to apprenticeships in England

Bravenboer, Darryll Willem; Crawford-Lee, Mandy and Dunn, Clare (2024). Can you credit it? Towards a process for ascribing credit to apprenticeships in England. Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning (Early Access).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1108/HESWBL-09-2023-0255

Abstract

Purpose
Apprenticeships in England, while defined by level and typical duration, are not quantified regarding the number of learning hours required to achieve the outcomes specified, as with other regulated qualifications and accredited programmes. This paper proposes an approach to ascribe credit to apprenticeships recognising both on-and-off-the-job learning to remove some of the existing barriers to accessing higher education (HE) and the professions.

Design/methodology/approach
A mixed methodological approach resulting in a total learning hours/credit value was proposed.

Findings
There is significant HE-wide confusion regarding the amount of learning/training that is required to complete apprenticeships in England. Whilst sector guidance made it clear that there was no prescribed method to ascribe credit to qualifications, programmes, modules, units or apprenticeships by drawing out the core principles within current practice, a key outcome of this project was the development of a method to ascribe a credit value to apprenticeships.

Research limitations/implications
There is potential to support further research into the recognition of prior learning as a specialised pedagogy and for reflecting on apprenticeship practice in other roles and sectors.

Practical implications
Whilst the project underpinning this paper focused on the healthcare sector, the method used to ascribe credit to the level-3 healthcare support worker apprenticeship was not sector specific and can therefore be applied to apprenticeships within other contexts providing more widespread benefits to workforce development.

Social implications
Policy makers must ensure that employers and providers are clear that the minimum statutory off-the-job hours constitute an apprentice employment entitlement, which must not be conflated with total apprenticeship learning hours requirements. This recommended policy clarification could assist in simplifying the process required for ascribing credit to apprenticeships and at the same time support a move towards better and more consistent recognition of the value of apprenticeship learning.

Originality/value
It is a first attempt to ascribe a credit value to an apprenticeship in England for the specific purpose of facilitating progression to HE.

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