Preparing students for higher level and degree apprenticeship success

The application process for any higher level or degree apprenticeship programme is extremely competitive and, as a consequence, can be extremely nerve-racking.

Through the Trust’s Higher Level and Degree Apprenticeship programme we prepare the young people we work with as thoroughly as possible for their application journey, and that preparation includes supporting them through one of the most intimidating aspects of the process; the assessment centre.

Assessment centres have become an integral part of many application processes because they allow an employer or training provider to test an applicant’s knowledge and a wide range of skills simultaneously. Each assessment centre task is multifaceted and the participant is constantly under observation. For many young people an application for a higher level or degree apprenticeship heralds their first experience of an assessment centre and without adequate preparation can also spell the demise of their application.

We recently ran three mock assessment centres over the course of two days with students from our Schools Partnership programme. The sessions combined the main elements of an assessment day: a team, interview and presentation activity, followed by feedback at the end of the session from our industry volunteers who helped to facilitate the assesment centre. 

For the team activity, the students were assessed on their interpersonal and problem-solving skills as they worked together to come up with a survival plan following a hypothetical plane crash. Teamwork was followed by individual interviews with 5 minute presentations concluding the day’s activities.  During the interview and presentation activities students were marked on their knowledge, confidence, communication skills, clarity of arguments and ability to respond to challenging questions.


The accumulated feedback given by the industry volunteers at the end of the session gave the students an invaluable experience to critically reflect on their performance, both in terms of their successes and areas they need to strengthen. When they attend assessment centres as part of a real application process, our students will be able to recall their experience, drawing confidence from the fact that they know what to except and how to handle the challenge ahead.