The UK division of “big four” accounting firm KPMG has announced a new, multi-year apprenticeship program which grants bachelors-level credentials upon completion.

Offered in London, Manchester, and Leeds, the KPMG360° Digital program offers a four-year immersion in company operations as participants rotate among the firm’s technology teams.

At the same time, these student-apprentices pursue supplemental academic studies through KPMG’s partner training provider, BPP University. BPP has been owned by the US-based Apollo Group, an operator of for-profit educational institutions.

The academic curriculum appears to be regarded as supplemental to the focus on real-world job experience. The program grants one day per week out of office for study leave, and much of the training is online and on-demand.

Successful apprentices will achieve a BS degree in Digital and Technology Solutions granted by BPP. Presumably, however, the degree will be of minor importance if the student-employee plans to continue a career path within KPMG.

Happily for apprentices, the program covers tuition costs and also offers a direct salary. The amount has not been disclosed.

KPMG has created the program in response to their need to “nurture our next generation of talent,” acknowledging that contemporary accounting firms require “technical specialists” who can be proficient with leading-edge technology.

As an example of a successful participant, KPMG presents the story of Kristina (pictured above), who explains: “Although university was the route everyone else was taking, I realised uni wasn’t necessary for me and took the job at KPMG when it was offered to me.” She adds: “In five years’ time, I will have finished my degree and will become an Assistant Manager. I see myself here for a long time, KPMG has the resources and opportunities for you to really make a career.”

This digital, degree-bearing program is the latest offering in KPMG’s “360” apprentice programs, which first started in 2015.

The Digital apprenticeship is designed for British students and requires points and certifications from the UK’s education system. Interested students must apply online and then, if requested, provide a follow-up “digital submission.”

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Should we expect to see more of these hybrid work-degree apprenticeships in the near future? The arguments in their favor are compelling, including:

  • Early exposure to real-world companies and careers
  • Opportunities to nurture experience-based skills
  • Early income, and conversely–
  • –Avoidance of student debt

Meanwhile, these apprentices also achieve a portable, respectable degree, which serves as an insurance policy in case they ever prefer not to remain with the original, mentor employer.

While these types of supplemental degrees serve to satisfy most employers’ lingering requirements for college credentials, we anticipate the degree component of these hybrid programs will only lessen over time. In many fields, hiring managers will learn to favor multiple years of large-corporation experience over common certifications.

We have not seen many instances of hybrid apprentice programs within the United States, but this program at DowDuPont shows some similarities.

Are you familiar with any hybrid work-degree apprenticeships? Let us know in the comments!