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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Apprenticeship-to-degree model launches debt-free careers

How do you get a job at Goldman Sachs? In the U.S., it usually takes a degree from an elite college to get in the door. In Britain, would-be investment bankers can start with a four-year paid "apprenticeship" that leads to a bachelor's degree, writes Joe E. Ross, president of Reach University, on Inside Higher Ed.


Dozens of employers, including Goldman Sachs, "Deloitte, GE, IBM, JPMorgan, Nestlé, UBS and Rolls-Royce" are collaborating with universities to combine on-the-job learning with job-relevant after-work classes, he writes. Tuition is paid as part of the worker's compensation, so there's no need for student loans.

In Germany, companies such as Bosch and Daimler-Benz led the launch of the Berufsakademie (or “working academy”) in the early 1970's, writes Ross. It's "now a job-embedded public university boasting 34,000 students and 9,000 participating employers."


Tennessee is pairing school support staffers with mentor teachers while they earn a college degree.

The model is in the early stages in the U.S. with state education agencies and K-12 school districts taking the lead, he writes. Starting in 2020, Reach has offered apprenticeship-based bachelor’s degree programs to enable school employees to become teachers in Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas and California.


Last year, Tennessee launched a federally registered teacher apprenticeship program: School staffers, such as aides and bus drivers, can qualify for federal funding to earn college credit while working as apprentice teachers.


The model can apply to a wide range of careers, writes Ross. In Britain, more than 100 universities now offer job-embedded degrees in fields ranging from finance to health care. More than 40,000 new students enroll each year. Apprenticeship can be much more than an alternative to college, he writes. "In Germany, at least one study of the Berufsakademie has found that its graduates earn more and ascend more quickly up the corporate ladder than their peers who went to traditional universities."


I see a critical requirement to make this model work for private employers: Testing. Employers in Britain and Germany can look at applicants' test scores -- how many A levels? -- to decide if they're worth training and educating. If there are no reliable measures of competence, the investment would be too risky.

1 Kommentar


Bruce Smith
Bruce Smith
21. Aug. 2023

Joanne's right: Tennessee has nothing like a European matriculation examination, with the exception of IB Diploma programmes, and how many of its students pass that and then decide to forego their elite university admissions and credits and enrol in a teaching apprenticeship programme instead?

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