It’s National Apprenticeships Week! If you’re wondering how apprenticeships work, how to apply for one or even what an apprenticeship actually is, then read on…..
Here at Manchester Met, we offer Degree Apprenticeships. These are an exciting new alternative to traditional university study. They’re a work-based route to a degree, allowing students to gain valuable industry experience whilst studying part-time, you also get paid whilst you study and there are no tuition fees!
Sound interesting? We spoke to Student Recruitment Officer Sean Threlfall, and current apprentice Tom McFarlane, to get an insight into how Degree Apprenticeships work and what life is like as an apprentice.
Tom, can you tell us more about your degree apprenticeship?
I am currently doing a Degree Apprenticeship in Digital and Technology Solutions at Manchester Metropolitan University. I am really enjoying my time here at university because you are treated as an adult, it is a topic that I am passionate about and I am given responsibilities inside and outside of the workplace. I am currently working for JGM Agency, based in Haslingden. The company provide a full advertisement service and I am training to become a professional Website Developer.
How did Degree Apprenticeships come about?
Degree Apprenticeships have allowed employers and universities to work collaboratively and to raise the standards of apprenticeships. They also support the Government’s aim to fill vacancies in skills shortage areas as well as providing more employment opportunities for people leaving sixth form or college.
Tom, why did you choose to undertake a Degree Apprenticeship?
I think that this is the best option because I get the chance to attend university whilst working full-time. I am learning about work life and how the business works, and understanding the entire process helps you to become more mature and independent. I really enjoy my Apprenticeship and would recommend it to anybody who has an interest in or who wants to pursue a career in IT. The course spectrum covers everything that you can specialise in as a career, from IT Consultant to Programmer. This is one of my favourite things about the course, not to mention the free degree.
Who would be best suited to a Degree Apprenticeship? What types of student are you looking for?
Employers will be looking to employ hard working and enthusiastic individuals who demonstrate a real desire to start their career in the sector they are applying for. Entry requirements vary between each Apprenticeship programme/employer but typically we are looking for 104-112 UCAS points with students having achieved grade C (or grade 4) in GCSE English and Mathematics.
What is life like for a Degree Apprentice at Manchester Met?
Apprentices are working full-time so won’t be able to live the conventional student lifestyle. However, we organise social events for apprentices outside of work time (weekends) and have a Facebook group for students to connect with one another. Apprentices are still able to access all of the benefits of being a student though.
A typical week is a lot different as to how I thought it would be. On Mondays, I attend university for a full day of lectures and then the rest of the week, I am usually busy at work. Mondays are probably my favourite day of the week as you get to meet people from all over the country who are exciting and easy to get along with. I have made some friends who have chosen the same pathway as myself (Software Engineering), so when any of us have a problem; we can help one another out. The tutors are really helpful and go above and beyond to help every student. They provide extra classes at the weekend if you don’t fully understand something or are a little behind and they make the lessons really enjoyable.
What are the benefits of doing a Degree Apprenticeship?
Degree Apprentices don’t pay tuition fees, as these are covered by the employer. Apprentices studying at Manchester Met receive a minimum salary of £12,000 and will be working in a full-time job.
The best thing about doing the Degree Apprenticeship is that you get
one day a week off work to learn. I am given a lot of freedom at work to learn at work, I have been here for 7 months and I am building websites and mobile applications. It is such a great opportunity and I love what I am currently doing.
What are the challenges of doing a Degree Apprenticeship and how do you overcome them?
One of the greatest challenges about the Degree Apprenticeship is being organised. As you learn more skills, you become more valuable to your workplace and your workload gradually increases. Whilst this is happening, you have to study and complete coursework and meet certain deadlines, but if you are good at managing your time then you should not have much of a problem
What type of Degree Apprenticeships are available at Manchester Met?
Currently we have Degree Apprenticeships in:
- BSc (Hons) in Digital & Technology Solutions
- BA (Hons) Business Management Professional (additional routes in Hospitality, Retail, Fashion)
Students do not apply through UCAS. Firstly, students need to register their interest in apprenticeships at www.mmu.ac.uk/apprenticeships . Secondly, they need to attend an open evening and meet employers. Prospective Apprentices then apply for a job directly with the employer. Once they have a job, students will then write a short university application.
Are there any tips or advice that you would give to somebody considering doing a Degree Apprenticeship?
My advice if you are looking to apply and become a Degree Apprentice is to apply for as many positions as you can in the area you are interested in because you will have more chance of being taken on. I applied for about six different positions and five of them turned me down – they are competitive. I would also suggest trying to learn something about the position you are applying for. The job role for me was Website Developer, so I learned how to do a bit of coding to show an interest and stand out from the other candidates and my boss found me to be the best candidate for the job.
If you would like to find out even more about Degree Apprenticeships, our website has plenty of case studies and videos. It also contains details of current apprenticeship vacancies.