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"A degree apprenticeship gave me the perfect solution to gain hands on experience."

A classroom of business students brainstorming and looking at work on the table.

Alex is a Chartered Manager/BA (Honours) Professional Practice in Management degree apprentice at Samworth Brothers Supply Chain, a food storage and distribution hub based in Leicester.

"A degree apprenticeship provided me with the perfect solution to gain hands on experience."

“I chose to complete a degree apprenticeship because I wanted to gain hands-on experience in the business environment. This provided me with the perfect solution to gain experience in the workplace whilst studying for a degree in business management on the side. 

"My role in Samworth Brothers Supply Chain requires me to look after a small team and manage relations with external customers. No two days are the same and there is a lot of scope for me to get involved with different projects.

"Undertaking an apprenticeship during the pandemic has been challenging, however the university’s ability to adapt the programme’s learning resources so they can be used online is fantastic. The resources are equally as engaging and I feel I am still getting the maximum benefit from the course.

"My apprenticeship has allowed me to experience the various departments through rotations in areas including warehouse, transport and planning. Through these rotations I have been able to develop fundamental management and leadership skills and had the opportunity to step into higher level roles across different areas of the business.

"There is also a wide range of student support resources available to apprentices, from writing classes to other academic training courses which are a great way to assist in achieving the best grades possible. It is clear that Sheffield Hallam is committed to supporting students on and off campus at all times.

"The programme has allowed me to not only develop academically but enhance my professional and communication skills. I feel I have grown in confidence and self-belief which has given me the motivation to drive myself forward. I would like to become a director of a business one day, so I will continue to push myself into different opportunities so I can progress into higher level roles.”

How you apply is different with each employer

I was already working at Hallam, so I just sent a CV to the recruiting manager. However it works for you, once you have the job, you’d then apply for university the same way as everyone else, and your employer will fill in parts of the application too.

  1. If you’re already employed, research what degree apprenticeships are, then take it to your line manager. Once that’s done contact the university and they can advise you where to go from there. Rather than just applying, have a conversation with your employer and the university.

  2. If you’re not employed yet, contact Hallam as they have a matchmaking service where you can say what you’re interested in, and if they know of any employers who could help you, they’ll put you in touch.

How to convince an employer to fund your apprenticeship

First of all, it’s helpful for the business to find out if they’re a 'levy' company – if so they’ll already have money set aside specifically for apprentices, so not only do they not have to pay the fees, they get a more qualified member of staff at the end of it. Plus, it’s the only way they can spend the levy money, so they might as well.

Or if they’re not a levy company, the government will help them to pay the fees. Either way, the employer won’t have to pay the full amount. Speak to the employer about what funding is available, or they can contact the university to find out.

When I go to university I do one module at a time

So it’s just one assignment to focus on, which makes it easy to balance. As well as that you should get a study day to get a good start on it. Your employer will want you to do well, and they have to give you 20% of your time off the job to study. Some of that could be made up of block study in university, but the rest would be study days. Typically, you should get one study day per module.

I can apply what I've learned on my course directly to my job

As well as that, my assignments fit to the business – when I'm writing things up it matches my work, so I can understand why I had to learn about that subject. In a previous course I couldn't understand why I would need to learn about some subjects, but on an apprenticeship everything is relevant in the workplace.

It's not like your average job either – I feel like I've made a change already. You're trusted to make a start on projects, and coming in as an apprentice, you're responsible for your own work. I worked in retail before and felt like I had no opportunities. Now, I'm involved in so many different things and I have the opportunity to progress as well, which I never had before.

There are so many different people and all of different ages

The first group I was in was really nice – and even though I felt like they were more experienced within their jobs, I felt more academically experienced as I'd just left A levels, so we could all learn from each other. There were different industries too on the same course – like plastics, environmental, construction and manufacturing – so it was really interesting.

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