Top ten tips from unis offering degree apprenticeships

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  1. What are the key features and aptitudes of successful apprenticeship applicants?
    Willingness to work hard, because they will be studying and doing a full-time job. They also need to be confident and mature to handle their responsibilities in the workplace. Academically, they can have different types of qualifications, but they all need to be bright and able to learn independently.
  2. What are the biggest challenges for young people doing a higher or degree apprenticeship?
    Just making enough time to do everything in the day calls for great time management skills.
  3. Apprenticeships are still seen by some people as ‘second best’ to full-time higher education, if a student's grades are lower than they hoped. What is your view of apprenticeships as an option?
    A degree apprenticeship is academically just as challenging as a traditional degree, but has additional pressures of working at the same time! Apprentices need to be as bright as undergraduates, but more disciplined too. I believe people who have gone through the degree apprenticeship route will outstrip graduates, because they have deep experience of work context in addition to theoretical knowledge. Young people with high grades should definitely investigate this route – once people realise the advantages, competition for places will become fierce.
  4. What advice would you give to students who think they want to do a degree apprenticeship, but are not sure if it’s for them?
    Start planning early and try to get some work experience in the sector you’re interested in. Go to university open days and talk to the people who are delivering the programmes to find out more. There is a range of different study options, so think about what would suit your learning style. If you really aren’t right for it, don’t do it. Traditional degrees are very valuable and give people time to explore different options, while building their confidence and experience.
  5. What are the top three things you look for in an application?
    Enthusiasm for the subject. Like any degree, a genuine interest in what you are studying makes study more rewarding, which improves your chances of success. Secondly, we need to establish the applicant has the academic ability to succeed, so we don’t set up weak applicants to fail. That involves grades, but we would also test numerical and reasoning skills. An applicant’s character is really important – they need to be mature enough to enter the workplace, and dedicated enough to work and study at the same time.
  6. What are the most common weaknesses in applications/applicants?
    We need academically strong applicants – some people apply after exhausting other possibilities, and they can really struggle. Maturity is very important, so if you feel you have some growing up to do, consider taking some time out of education to build your confidence. Doing paid or voluntary work will help you learn responsibility and interact with people outside of school.
  7. What do you consider when deciding whether or not to interview applicants?
    They have to pass some basic grade thresholds, and online tests for numerical skills, aptitude, and attitude.
  8. What tips would you give applicants for getting the most out of interviews?
    Remember you are being interviewed to be an employee, as well as a student. You need to present yourself as a person who can contribute in a real job. Then do all the things you would normally do for a job role – find out as much as you can about the company and the role, so you can ask intelligent questions.
  9. Where can students get support when they are doing an apprenticeship?
    The employer will provide all the normal HR support, as well as mentoring and line management, and input on career development in the company. Higher education providers will provide support with learning development and all the normal pastoral care, information, and advice that any other student would get. A degree apprentice is also an undergraduate and has access to all normal support services.
  10. What’s your top tip for young people thinking about applying for an apprenticeship?
    Go for it! It’s a really great opportunity that has the potential to set you up well for the rest of your life. Start investigating the opportunities available, find out as much as you can, and see if there’s a degree apprenticeship that’s right for you. If you are reading this, you are probably already doing the right things!