Life as a Degree Apprentice Everything you need to know

14 October 2019 | Careers Advice | Guest Author

So, you’ve probably been hearing a lot about these degree apprenticeships. And why not, they sound pretty awesome, right?

You possibly also know that it’s a great way to gain practical work experience alongside completing a Bachelor’s or Master’s qualification, and that you’ll earn a wage while you do. Oh, and not forgetting, you’ll come out the other end completely student-loan debt-free.

But what you perhaps don’t know (and we expect that you’re wondering), is exactly what life is like as a degree apprentice. 

Luckily for you, we’ve spoken with a few degree apprentices and their employers to bring you everything you need to know about degree apprenticeships.

How is a Degree Apprenticeship Structured?

We’re all quite familiar with what going to university looks like (in the traditional sense anyway), but how about as a degree apprentice? Well, that’s a bit different.

With traditional study, you’re given a timetable of lectures and tutorials, as well as guidance on individual study. The rest of your time is for you to do with as you please. A degree apprenticeship is pretty similar with one big exception: when  you’re not studying, you’ll be working.

Most degree apprentices spend 70-80% of their time at work and the rest at university or studying remotely. Different apprenticeships will split the work-study blocks differently, with a focus on having you in the workplace to put what you learn in the classroom into practice. This will change throughout the duration of your course, as you gain more skills and knowledge.

“I do four days at work, where I get to learn skills to boost my CV and focus on my career. And then the 5th day, I get a study day. So I can purely focus on my University studies - like assignments, revise for a test and others. It's a nice combination of being academic and developing skills.”

Tom, Degree Apprentice with BT

Are You Considered a Student or an Employee? 

You’ll be pleased to learn that you’ll be considered as both - which does mean double the responsibility but also double the perks!

As a student enrolled at a university, you’ll have access to all the good student stuff: learning support, student services, life on campus, and student discounts (including the NUS Apprenticeship card).

As an employee, you’ll be entitled to paid annual leave, paid sick days, access to professional development through your employer and, depending on where you work, access to a whole range of different workplace benefits.

“One of the biggest perks we get is half price cinema tickets, which is just too much for me! I really love it!

Greg - Degree Apprentice, Accenture

What Sort of Support Do You Get?

Depending on what support you need, you’ll have access to services through your university (such as Learning Centres, Student Services, Student Mentoring, and Learning Groups) or through your employer (such as Employee Services, HR Advisors, and a Professional Supervisor).

It’s really a case of making sure you let people know if you’re struggling - no matter what it might be. There is always someone who can help you and extra support is available.

Our employer partner Jaguar Land Rover had this advice:

“All apprentices get a thorough induction into both Jaguar Land Rover as well as the education/college provider. We also provide apprentices with location guides, information about the local areas, department descriptions thereby giving them an overview of the area which they are going into as well as pre-starter packs to give an overview of the support available over the apprenticeship.”

Do You Miss Out on the Social Life of University?

We won’t lie, there’s a huge difference between being a full-time student with maybe a casual part-time job, and being a degree apprentice with an almost full-time career!

It’s unlikely you’ll be able (or want to!) be out partying on a Tuesday night when you’ve got a big team meeting where you have to present at 8.30 am on Wednesday. But that doesn’t mean your social life will be dead. It’s just different.

“It’s obviously different as it’s a full-time job, which you won’t have if you’re at university. But in my first year, I was studying at college full time where I got to meet other apprentices and make some great friends. I now live with a couple of my friends that I met at college in my first year, and because I’m earning I can afford to rent a house with them.”

Sharon - Degree Apprentice, Jaguar Land Rover 

As a degree apprentice, you’ll get the opportunity to connect with a variety of new people and be part of some great workplace culture.

So, if the ‘degree apprentice life’ sounds like the right path for you, become a free Springpod member to get all the answers to your questions and find out the details on how to apply, where to apply and how to get your career started.

We can’t wait to help you on your journey!


Author Bio

Sid Balachandran is the Content Marketing Manager at Springpod, an early careers network for young people to explore diverse career paths and connect with leading UK employers. An experienced content creator, he believes good content is nothing short of a superpower - one that can change the world, influence people, inspire others and help brands succeed.

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