< Back to All Case Studies

70. Market Research into Degree Apprenticeship Expansion

Kada Research were commissioned by the University of Essex to investigate the demand for and feasibility of expanding their apprenticeship offer. This followed the University receiving funding from the Office for Students aimed at supporting universities to further develop their existing apprenticeship offer. The potential expansion of 11 apprenticeship standards was explored from qualification Levels 4 to 7 across three thematic areas of health and social care, data science, and economics and business administration.

The University already has well-established higher and degree apprenticeship pathways in place focussing on standards in computer science and electronic engineering, health and social care and sport, rehabilitation, and exercise sciences. Building on these strengths, the aim of the research was to identify new opportunities for expansion aligned to these existing pathways but also in new subject areas and disciplines where apprenticeships were not currently offered.

The research involved a multi-methods approach and included consultations with academic leads in relevant disciplines within the University and a comprehensive desk review to explore local labour market needs, strategic priorities and skills supply. Local and national employers were also engaged via a survey and consultations to further understand employer needs within the region and beyond.

A final report and presentation were produced which each highlighted current skills needs, priority sectors and employer demand for higher and degree apprenticeships. Employer readiness to engage with apprenticeship development was also captured along with a suite of recommendations which identified the sectors and disciplines offering scope for apprenticeship development. The outcomes of the study provided an evidence baseline and practical next steps to help inform strategic decisions within the University about further development of its apprenticeship offer.

“This was a highly relevant and timely study given the need within the wider regional and national economy to meet technical skills gaps for a broad range of priority and growth sectors. The recent development of the Local Skills Implementation Plan (LSIP) provided an important backdrop for exploring employer demand for apprenticeships to help strengthen the local and national supply of skills and to identify genuine opportunities for HE-employer collaboration to meet these skills gaps while providing new, inclusive and employability-focussed opportunities for local students.”

Study Director, Dr Laura Lane.

‘Kada Research worked within tight funding deadlines to provide us with in depth research on market demand for a range of Higher and Degree Apprenticeships we were considering developing. The research has been used to support the submission of further funding bids aimed at growing Degree Apprenticeships.  The team at Kada were flexible in their approach and were able to change their research methods to meet the response and engagement of employers. The research has provided us with valuable information that will help support our strategic approach to apprenticeship development going forward.’

Rachel Brown, Senior Apprenticeships Manager

If you are thinking about commissioning market research to understand opportunities for the development of apprenticeship provision or to inform wider curriculum development planning, or if you would like to talk through an idea you can contact the study director Laura Lane at laura@kadaresearch.co.uk.