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They gave me an opportunity, and I took it: motivations and concerns of adult apprentices.

Smith, Sally; Fabian, Khristin; Taylor-Smith, Ella; Barr, Matthew; Berg, Tessa; Bratton, Andrew; Kolberg, Mario; Paterson, Jim; Zarb, Mark


Sally Smith

Khristin Fabian

Ella Taylor-Smith

Matthew Barr

Tessa Berg

Andrew Bratton

Mario Kolberg

Jim Paterson


In the UK context of an ageing population, degree apprenticeships represent a new opportunity to study for a degree while working. Apprentices are full-time employees granted time to study for a degree with a significant workplace learning component. The aim of this study was to focus on whether degree apprenticeships are working for adult apprentices (aged 26 and up in this context). New apprentices (n = 162) in six universities in Scotland, UK were surveyed to gain a better understanding of background, prior work and study experience, motivations and expectations. Results show that adult apprentices join apprenticeship programmes with significant work experience and workplace metaskills, together with a consolidated sense of self as a professional. Adult apprentices aimed to gain a degree while remaining in work, thus increasing skills in situ. The main barrier identified was the challenge of achieving work-study-life balance. The findings can be used to more closely align apprenticeship provision with adult apprentices' skills needs while reducing barriers to accessing and succeeding in apprenticeships. We make recommendations for more flexibility in terms of advanced entry and Masters-level apprenticeships, with better recognition of prior experience, motivations and anticipated challenges.


SMITH, S., FABIAN, K., TAYLOR-SMITH, E., BARR, M., BERG, T., BRATTON, A., KOLBERG, M., PATERSON, J. and ZARB, M. 2023. They gave me an opportunity, and I took it: motivations and concerns of adult apprentices. Journal of vocational education and training [online] Latest Articles. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 24, 2023
Online Publication Date Sep 5, 2023
Deposit Date Sep 15, 2023
Publicly Available Date Sep 15, 2023
Journal Journal of vocational education and training
Print ISSN 1363-6820
Electronic ISSN 1747-5090
Publisher Taylor and Francis
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords Degree apprenticeship; Graduate apprenticeship; Adult learner; Adult apprentice; Computing; Business management
Public URL
Additional Information This article has been published with separate supporting information. This supporting information has been incorporated into a single file on this repository and can be found at the end of the file associated with this output.


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