Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Apprentices’ perspectives of the tripartite collaboration at the heart of degree apprenticeships: a longitudinal study

Taylor-Smith, Ella; Smith, Sally; Fabian, Khristin; Bratton, Andrew


Profile Image

Prof Sally Smith
Head of Graduate Apprenticeships and Skills Development and Professor


Purpose: The partnership which underpins degree apprenticeships is a tripartite collaboration between apprentices, employers, and universities. This study investigated the lived experiences and reflections of the apprentices at the centre, to inform effective collaboration.
Methodology: A qualitative, longitudinal study, spanning four years, in which thirteen apprentices studying apprenticeship degrees at a Scottish university were interviewed in their first and final years about their experiences of the apprenticeship (26 interviews). Data was analysed via a framework matrix, which focused on the collaborations between the apprentice, employer, and university, also surfacing changes between the apprentices’ first and final year.
Findings: The tripartite collaboration is logistical but also, like learning, social. Apprentices require interest and support from their employers and colleagues to promote meaningful integration between their work and studies. Further, collaboration between apprentices extends from peer support into meaningful friendships and feeds into their work, as well as their studies. The university plays a key role in facilitating these essential connections.
Practical implications: Apprenticeships can be highly effective in upskilling the workforce and sharing knowledge and skills between academia and the workplace in both directions, while specifically enabling workers to gain degree qualifications relevant to their roles. Recommendations for future work practices, including collaborations, are made.
Originality: While the tripartite collaboration has been discussed theoretically in the literature, this is the first longitudinal investigation based on the lived experience of cohorts of apprentices, from the start of their degree to the final six months.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 4, 2023
Online Publication Date Aug 10, 2023
Publication Date 2023
Deposit Date Aug 16, 2023
Publicly Available Date Sep 27, 2023
Print ISSN 1366-5626
Publisher Emerald
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 35
Issue 8
Pages 779-795
Keywords degree apprenticeship; tripartite collaboration; work-based learning; mentor
Public URL


Apprentices’ perspectives of the tripartite collaboration at the heart of degree apprenticeships: a longitudinal study (accepted version) (415 Kb)

You might also like

Downloadable Citations