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"My degree apprenticeship helped me grow my confidence."

Girl sitting next to a table of packaged sweets and confectionary.

Hannah is a Development Technologist at The Serious Sweet Co, she is studying on our BSc (Honours) Professional Practice in Food Technology degree apprenticeship.

"The degree apprenticeship has helped me grow my confidence."

“I always had a passion for food, so a degree apprenticeship with The Serious Sweet Co. was the perfect opportunity for me to start my career in this industry. 

"Working as a development technologist apprentice, I create new confectionery products for retailers across the UK, Europe, America and Canada. I work with the retailer to create product ideas alongside their concepts and then develop the product further before manufacturing.

"The combination of work-based learning and academic study has helped to expand my understanding of the food industry. The ability to apply what I have learnt at university directly to the workplace has allowed me to help support other departments, such as assisting the technical department to develop new procedures and improve quality management. 

"The greatest success of my apprenticeship journey so far was launching a range of Christmas products in 2019 after only working in product development for 12 months which led to an overall increase in sales for the company. I’ve also had the opportunity to develop a range of all year round products that have launched into a variety of retailers, as well as making improvements to current products in the market.

"A degree apprenticeship is not an easy option. At first, I found it hard to balance work and study. However, I really enjoyed learning skills through academic study that can be directly applied to my place of work. The apprenticeship has helped my confidence grow which has allowed me to develop new relationships with team members, retailers and suppliers and seek out new opportunities.”

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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