Research Output
From work-integrated learning to learning-integrated work: motivations and apprehensions of Graduate Apprentices
  Graduate Apprenticeship (GA) degrees bring new collaborations between universities and employers and new opportunities for apprentices—to gain a university degree, while also being in formal employment. In 2017, Scotland introduced funding for GAs: students are based in the workplace and undertake work-based learning as well as attending campus-based classes. To support students through four relatively intense years of study and employment, it is vital to understand their experience. Research workshops were held with computing students starting GAs to explore motivations and apprehensions—their aspirations and understandings of the challenges ahead. Workshops involved a short individual survey and a group Rich Picture session, a participant-centred tool for surfacing perspectives and mental models. To contextualise the data, a comparative study was conducted with computing students starting ‘traditional’ on-campus degrees. Both groups were primarily motivated by the goal of well-paid careers. The apprentices were worried about work-study balance and the challenges of fulfilling (even keeping) their jobs while passing university assessments. The comparison group were also worried about academic challenges and maintaining a healthy work-life balance; however, unlike the apprentices, they were worried about money and debt. This paper explores the apprentices’ context through literature and policy and, with a focus on students’ situated perspectives, reflects on the advantages and challenges of this new work-based learning model. The study aims to deepen understanding of how best to ensure apprentices fulfil their aspirations.

  • Date:

    23 June 2018

  • Publication Status:


  • Publisher

    University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand

  • Library of Congress:

    LB2300 Higher Education

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    378 Higher education

  • Funders:

    SDS Skills Development Scotland


Smith, S., Taylor-Smith, E., Smith, C., & Varey, A. (2018). From work-integrated learning to learning-integrated work: motivations and apprehensions of Graduate Apprentices. In Proceedings of the 3rdInternational Research Symposium on Cooperative and Work-Integrated Education, Stuttgart, Germany (199-207)



Work-based learning; work-integrated learning; apprentices; rich pictures; computing

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