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Case study: apprenticeships at Oxford Brookes University

30 January 2020

Oxford Brookes University introduced the architecture apprenticeship in September 2018. With a current cohort of 42 apprentices, their goal is to create a fully integrated accessible platform for professional training.

For National Apprenticeship Week 2020, we spoke to Oxford Brookes University Programme Lead Karl Kjelstrup-Johnson about the architecture apprenticeship they offer.

Oxford Brookes University Programme Lead Karl Kjelstrup-Johnson

"Our vision for the Oxford Brookes apprenticeship programme is to future proof the profession by providing a platform for social mobility, collaborative research and knowledge exchange with our industry partners," says Karl Kjelstrup-Johnson.

"An ambition beyond just receiving the qualifications is required, and the apprenticeship route will not suit all. The individual must be willing to push the boundaries, be critical and most importantly look to offer real world impact to the industry as well as the practice that is effectively investing in them. With this in mind, the apprentice can accelerate within their career and be without the financial burden of debt that comes from traditional routes.

The apprenticeships require a close, symbiotic relationship between the apprentice, mentor and academic team in order to be effective. We are honoured to be working with our partners, with both apprentices and mentors offering a significant contribution to the continued development of the programme.

Universities can support architects by training the next generation with the current and future skills and knowledge needed by our rapidly changing construction industry."

"The programme at Oxford Brookes has been specifically designed with an innovative pedagogical approach focusing on advanced design, critical thinking and problem solving skills that can offer real impact within the industry. Apprentices are exposed to global leading academics while gaining mentorship from industry experts, accelerating learning and providing the foundation for the profession’s next generation.

Apprenticeships have the ability to transform the profession. The opportunity for apprentices to gain qualifications while gaining experience through paid work opens up social mobility, supporting diversity that the profession is in need of. Even at this early stage, the progression of the apprentices in both their level of academic output and professional attitude suggests the real potential of this alternative route. Oxford Brookes’ programme looks to develop this symbiotic relationship across academia and industry beyond the delivery of training with the intention to radically change how the profession can respond to future industrial challenges.

Practices should take on more apprentices as it presents an opportunity to train future leaders, which can ultimately make their practice more resilient. They can build high performing teams and retain talent, encourage social mobility and diversity in the profession, and strengthen relationships with academic bodies. Another advantage is that practices can gain competitive advantage through collaborative research and development with global leading experts."

Apprentices at Foster + Partners © Oxford Brookes University

At RIBA, we can support you whether you're looking to become an architecture apprentice, if you're looking to employ an apprentice at your architecture practice, or if you're a university looking at offering training for apprentices.

RIBA Future Architects also offers information and resources for students and early career architects.

Join our conversations about National Apprenticeship Week 2020 on social media using the hashtags #NationalApprenticeshipWeek, #NAW2020 and #LookBeyond.

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