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MDX's higher and degree apprenticeships having 'very significant impact' on social mobility - research

08/02/2021
New study finds 63% of apprentices at Middlesex University come from a non-professional background and 66% have parents with either no formal or degree level qualifications

Higher and degree apprenticeships are having a “very significant” impact on social mobility as two-thirds of apprentices at Middlesex University come from non-professional backgrounds where their parents do not have degree level qualifications, according to new research.

Middlesex University’s Move on Up study asked 1030 apprentices across 11 apprenticeship programmes - including around 800 Nursing Associates, Registered Nurses and Police Constables - about their social and economic backgrounds.

Researchers compared the responses with other anonymised data, that takes into account higher education participation and deprivation measurements by postcode areas, to examine what impact apprenticeships at Middlesex have on ‘social mobility’ – the link between a person’s occupation and income with their parents’ jobs and salaries.

"As a higher education provider it’s vital to understand the effectiveness of the apprentice programs and the results show they are an extremely positive driver of social change, enabling students of all backgrounds and age groups the chance to progress and fulfil their dreams."  Professor Nic Beech, Vice Chancellor of Middlesex University.

The Move on Up survey, released at the start of National Apprenticeship Week, found:

  • 66% of Middlesex apprentices come from low higher education participation backgrounds
  • 49% of respondents reported that their parents/guardians had ‘qualifications below degree level’ and 17% reported that their parents/guardians had ‘no formal qualifications’, which totals 66%
  • Up to 63% of apprentices may be from non-professional backgrounds
  • Only 37% of respondents reported that the highest income earners in their household were employed as ‘managers, directors and senior officials’ ‘professionals’, or ‘associate professionals’
  • 53% of our apprentices are female, 47% are from BAME groups and 72% are aged over 25 years
  • Retention rates are also high - 93% overall, 97% for our Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship programmes

Commenting on the results, Professor Darryll Bravenboer, Director of Apprenticeships at Middlesex University, said: “We have long suspected that the majority of our apprentices have come from disadvantaged and low participation backgrounds and that apprenticeships were transforming lives but the postcode data didn’t show this.

“Now we have a solid basis to know that by enabling access to professional careers, apprenticeship have a major social mobility impact. This is good news not only for Middlesex, our employer partners and our apprentices but for all those who think that apprenticeship have a key role in levelling-up.”

Professor Nic Beech, Vice-Chancellor of Middlesex University, said: “This Move on Up study provides strong evidence of the very significant impact that Middlesex University’s higher and degree apprenticeship program is having on social mobility.

“It is extremely pleasing to see how these apprenticeship programs have attracted such a diverse range of students and are affording so many the opportunities to achieve skills and qualifications which were not available to their parents.

“As a higher education provider it’s vital to understand the effectiveness of the apprentice programs and the results show they are an extremely positive driver of social change, enabling students of all backgrounds and age groups the chance to progress and fulfil their dreams.

“Students are facing increased pressures and financial hardship with the pandemic leading to the loss of part-time work and job losses in their families.

“However we believe that at the same time our students have such a crucial role to play in our economic and social recovery over the next few years and beyond.

“Our apprentice nurses, police officers and social workers are playing a central role in overcoming the health and social impacts of coronavirus and their contribution will be immense.”

Read the Move on Up early findings report.

Find out more about the higher and degree apprenticeship program at Middlesex University:

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