‘The mid-way point of my six year degree apprenticeship at Jaguar Land Rover is fast approaching. The opportunity for both personal and professional development within the framework of a degree apprenticeship is unparalleled. Real-world experience combined with academic studies at the university of Warwick is, in my opinion, the best of both worlds.
So why aren’t degree apprentice schemes more popular?
Sure, the pendulum is starting to shift, but the traditional university route is still the default for many school leavers. There are many misconceptions that stop people from applying for apprenticeships and I had some myself prior to applying. With 31 months under my belt, I think I finally know what It means to be a degree apprentice at JLR. So, allow me to dispel some of these myths and show you that an Apprenticeship can not only be a viable alternative to university, but for many people, a much better option.
But what exactly is a degree apprenticeship?
Well, think of it as full-time employment whilst studying part time at university.
But won’t that be really difficult?
You will have to balance your responsibilities at work whilst ensuring you keep up with your studies. But don’t worry, there is a whole team of people in place who are dedicated to looking after apprentices, so if you need support, it is definitely there!
Aren’t apprenticeships for people who didn’t do well at school?
This isn’t the case, many apprentices choose to complete a degree apprenticeship rather than university as it allows them to gain practical work experience and earn whilst completing their academic studies. A degree apprenticeship is equivalent to going to university and Jaguar Land Rover’s application process is thorough to ensure that you can succeed on your apprenticeship programme.
Isn’t a university degree worth more than a degree from an apprenticeship?
On the contrary. The degree you gain has been designed to meet IET accreditation requirements, and with your many years of experience at work, you will have all of the necessary requirements to become chartered.
But won’t I be able to earn more in the long run by going to university?
All it takes to dispel this myth is some quick maths. While university students incur debt of around £40k throughout their degree, apprentices are paid for the privilege. At JLR, degree level apprentices can expect to earn around £20k per year at the start of the scheme and given you perform as expected, you can receive pay rises that will take you above the average graduate starting salary by the end of your scheme, which you will leave debt-free.
But apprenticeships don’t lead anywhere!
I am sure Nick Rogers, Executive Director of Product Engineering at JLR, would have something to say about that. Having joined Land Rover in 1984 as a technical apprentice, his career has taken him right to the top of the industry. With an apprenticeship, the real world experience and interactions you gain from the very start, give an insight into things which cannot be taught and can leverage your career over your peers. And although not guaranteed, the overwhelming majority of apprentices stay with the business after their scheme.
Will I be asked to go to get the tartan paint?
Gone are the days when apprentices just made the tea. At JLR, apprentices provide huge value to the business and take on real responsibility. You will work along side experts in their field and draw upon their years of experience to garner in depth knowledge which you would not learn through academia. Even though you are an apprentice, you will be trusted to do the same jobs as people much more experienced than you, and you will be able to excel at it with the training and support you are provided with.
Ok you have convinced me on the academic and work side, but wont I miss out on the university life?
Balancing work and study can be difficult, and time will be at a premium. But don’t think you will have to fully compromise on the university experience. JLR invest heavily in apprentices and each year’s cohort see’s over a hundred likeminded individuals join the business, meaning there is a large network of new people to meet, work and socialise with. The early careers hub connects apprentices and graduates for social events, trips, projects and volunteering opportunities. As a degree apprentice, you will also be eligible for all the student benefits at the University of Warwick such as societies, sport, and student discounts.
I hope I have been able to address some of your concerns. A degree apprenticeship isn’t for everyone. But, if you have drive, enthusiasm and a willingness to learn, then it might just be for you.’