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"I didn't feel like I could study without a wage."

A man working at a laptop in an orange jumper and shirt with a small child on his lap pretending to be on the phone.

Arron and Lucy are the parents juggling full-time work with studying part-time Chartered Manager/BA Professional Practice in Management degree apprenticeships. Lucy works as a team leader and dispenser for a pharmacy and Arron works as a branch manager for Keyline, part of the Travis Perkins Group.

"I was at a crossroads in my career where I felt that I had become comfortable in what I was doing, so I needed a change."

Arron: "Having a small child while studying can be challenging, but to gain a degree at my age, at little cost, while maintaining a full-time role is a win-win opportunity for me.

"The knowledge I have taken onboard over the last 3 years is of immeasurable value to me as a professional and also to the organisation which I work in. 

"Remembering that the skills I have are transferable, tailored to real world application and are highly attractive to new and prospective employers alike. From strategic planning and change management through to data analysis and management accounting.

"The ability to attend modules and then return to the workplace and actually understand why decisions are made, how to leverage emotional intelligence and the ability to have meaningful and valuable input to senior leadership teams has been the most exciting take away.

"I am certain I would not have pursued a lifelong aim of achieving a degree level qualification, this has undoubtedly increased my future potential and immediate employability and attractiveness to organisations within my industry."

A woman and man holding a young child outside in the snow wearing coats and hats.

Lucy: "I was at a crossroads in my career where I felt that I had become comfortable in what I was doing, so I needed a change. A degree apprenticeship meant I could carry on earning, gain valuable experience and push myself to get a qualification. 

"I was almost 30 when I started, with a new house and wedding planning, so I didn’t feel like I could study without a wage. Since I've had my son, I do most of my studying in the evenings. I managed to get Arron  to sign up to the degree a year after me, so we are able to support each other through it!

"Hallam have been very supportive. I have found the course leaders and the student support team to be invaluable. I needed to move cohorts after my maternity leave and that was fully supported."

"My mentor, who is the Managing Director of the pharmacy, gives me opportunities to do tasks and experience things that are outside of my normal job role and will help with the course. It has been interesting to learn in theory and then be able to relate it immediately to real life."

"Going back to the workplace, understanding more and feeling like I can be included in discussions and decisions where I can be heard and gain feedback from my mentor, has made me feel more valuable at work."

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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