Degree Apprenticeships: The Best of Both Worlds?

Degree apprenticeships combine simultaneous professional work and academic study, with the added bonus of no tuition fee debt. They were introduced quite recently and grew significantly in numbers with the introduction of the apprenticeship levy.

The main benefits of a degree apprenticeship are working, earning and learning. You gain practical work experience on the job, earn an annual salary and study towards a Level 6 (bachelor’s) or Level 7 (master’s) degree. This allows for those students who want to get hands-on experience to get a foot into the door of the workplace or industry that they possess an interest in, whilst also gaining that higher education qualification that is so sought-after by employers.

Academic Study

There’s a huge range of subjects available in the degree apprenticeships space which is continuously growing, so students can now gain career access to a number of pathways through this route. There are also three main ways in which the degree study can be obtained: online, block release or day release.

“At Pearson College London, we’re released one day per week on a Friday to complete our studies towards our degree. Whilst I work for Pearson, I have the opportunity to study with students from a whole range of companies such as IBM, Mondelez, L’Oréal, Moët Hennessy and Red Carnation Hotels. This is great as a whole range of experiences is brought into the classroom.” – Katie Fiddaman, Pearson Degree Apprentice

The programme can last anywhere between 3 and 6 years generally and the academic study side is the same as other degree programmes in the UK. For example, you still get a grade class (First Class, Upper First, Lower First, etc.) and a graduation ceremony.

Professional Job Role

The second part of the degree apprenticeship programme is the professional job role, which degree apprentices spend 80% of their time doing. This varies depending on the apprenticeship programme and the company that the apprentice works for. For example, some apprentices are hired into roles specifically to complete the degree apprenticeship, whereas others are offered the apprenticeship as a method of upskilling. Therefore, there are a plethora of roles ranging from assistants to managers and it is a well-respected job role with the associated responsibilities.

“As a Marketing Assistant, I have campaigns that I have to run and it is down to me to ensure that budget is assigned, email marketing communications are sent out on time and website content is updated in alignment with the campaign. It is a real job role that I am learning so much from all the time.” – Phoebe Walker, Marketing Degree Apprentice

The best of both worlds?

Does a degree apprenticeship offer the best of both worlds? Well, essentially, the answer to that question is that, yes, it does offer the best of both worlds. You are gaining three to six years of work experience whilst getting a degree.

“Personally, I think that a degree apprenticeship offers the best of both worlds because you get to study for a degree and gain truly valuable work experience for your CV. You can also apply the academic theories to the practical work experience and vice versa, which is really useful when it comes to understanding the applicability of what you are studying.” – Niamh Mulhall, Pearson College London Degree Apprentice

However, you need to ask yourself if it is right for you? Degree apprenticeships are hard work and require excellent time management skills in order to balance a full-time job role with a degree qualification. They also limit you in terms of a social life as you might have to sacrifice going out mid-week for example as you’ll have work the next morning; that’s not to say you’ll have no friends, it is just all about the work-life balance.

Therefore, before jumping into anything, you need to make sure that it is right for you. But, if you are the type of person who loves a challenge, is organised, and wants to get a foot in the door, a degree apprenticeship could be the right route for you.

Find out more about Pearson College London’s degree apprenticeship programmes.

To search more degree apprenticeship opportunities; click here.

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