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Sally Charles, business development manager for Robert Gordon University, 

gives us her welcome insight into implementing the (relatively)

new Graduate Level Apprenticeships.

Starting Like A Start-Up

At a recent Apprenticeship conference RGU presented the perspective of the university partner in respect of the new Graduate Level Apprenticeships (GLAs) that we have recently started.  I was asked to comment on the process and having previously been involved in a start-up, gave this as the closest analogy for the journey of the last 18 months.

Like any start-up we had a significant development phase with considerable research into comparable models, best practice and customer input.  Because we were not actually a start-up we also had long standing processes to comply with, but these have proved their worth by adding strength, depth and credibility to the final outcome.  In early 2017 we were ready to go to market and again we were in start-up territory, launching a new product to a target audience who weren’t sure that they needed what we were selling.


"We were faced with diffusion of innovation inertia.....having multiple awareness-raising conversations whilst we sought out innovators and early adopters....we felt like pioneers"

Sally Charles, Business Development Manager, Robert Gordon University

Unlike traditional degrees where a university engages with potential students, who may then be recruited, with GLAs our engagement needed to be with employers.  Employment is a fundamental part of the work-based learning delivery of a GLA, so employer buy-in and involvement is crucial. 

However GLAs are a new development and not many employers had heard of them and fewer understood how they worked.  Familiar to those launching new ideas we were faced with diffusion of innovation inertia; having multiple awareness-raising conversations whilst we sought out innovators and early adopters to partner with.  We felt like pioneers.

We knew that the concept was good but we needed to find our key messages; the benefits that would catch the imaginations of our target audience.  In a difficult local market with recruitment off the agenda the upskilling benefits of GLAs came to the fore and carried the day delivering a full cohort – just-in-time!

RGU's GLA promotional video for employers.



RGU's promotional video for GLA students.


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