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Challenges and rewards of a degree apprenticeship

60214 Jennie WoodhamIn 2016 the University introduced the Chartered Manager Apprenticeship Degree. The course is shaped around the individual’s work, so as they develop their career they will know how to lead and manage people, projects, operations and services. Here two University staff share their experiences of being a degree apprentice.

Jennie Woodham, Business Analyst “A degree had always been in the back of my mind, and the Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship (CMDA), offered the perfect opportunity!

“The course operates on day release which provides a great balance of work, learning and study (plus has the bonus of no student fees). This degree in particular is really relevant to my job, and will provide me with the knowledge, skills and tools for working in a modern business environment. It will enable me to develop in my current position and also aid future progression in business management.

“Initially I was concerned when reading the entry requirements that I wouldn’t be eligible because my A Level grades were not sufficient. I was advised that this isn’t the only criteria and that experience in a business environment is acceptable because the focus of the course is work-based learning. I met with the course lead to chat about the course – this was really valuable – I’d advise getting in touch with the CMDA team in PBS to find out more about what you can expect to learn and what the benefits are.

“The course offers a full BA (Hons) Degree, plus an apprenticeship and Chartered Manager status. It is a three year commitment, with each year comprising three terms that run over an 11 week period (with a few weeks break in between each term).

“This does mean a fair amount of time away from the office, which initially provided some challenges around work allocation. We quickly adapted, largely thanks to effective planning and communication, and having a really understanding, encouraging and supportive team helps! Course days are taken into account when work is allocated and my time is planned to ensure tasks can be delivered with minimal impact, or delegated where appropriate.

“If you are motivated, and in addition to the day release, you can commit a few hours a week of your own time during term time to read, and a few more hours to prepare assessments, then I would really recommend the CMDA. It’s a great opportunity to develop yourself through professional development, and to gain the theory and knowledge to manage others through work-based learning modules that really relate to your job.”

FullSizeRenderChris Bayliss, Faculty Student Recruitment Administrator “As soon as I heard about the Degree Apprenticeship I knew it was an opportunity not to be missed.

“Not having a degree has meant I’ve been overlooked for jobs in the past and in a competitive job market you only need to fail on one point. Taking this step will provide more opportunities, whether through further education or just putting me on a better platform. There has been an increasing desire to test myself academically and prove to myself I am capable, particularly after joining the University. My two A levels wouldn’t have been enough to join the course in the traditional route so I was accepted based on my previous experience, and desire to improve and progress.     

“The course is over three 10 week terms per year, for three years, studying each Wednesday with a two day induction each term, roughly 36 days per year. Keeping on top of everything with a young family and my day job can be challenging, particularly when it’s assignment time but some discipline (ditching Netflix binges) and a supportive wife (waits to watch Better Call Saul and frees up the odd Saturday) has helped.

“My manager has been fantastic with her support. We have two rotas, one for term time and one for non-term. This allows workload to be spread thinly across the team, making the impact minimal. I don’t want to burden my colleagues so I manage my workload to clear any priority work on the Tuesday if necessary. As a team we discuss what I’ve been learning and they say it’s had a positive influence on the way we work.

“If someone is considering the Apprenticeship I would firstly suggest calculating how many spare hours you can create, include lunchtimes, Saturday mornings in front of Peppa Pig etc. Secondly, be prepared to feel shattered every now and again but know it passes quickly. Thirdly, do it! You’ll learn much more than what’s in the textbooks, particularly about yourself. If someone is considering a degree apprenticeship I’m happy to discuss it on the phone and give my honest opinion.”

The University also offers Level 7 Strategic Leadership MBA, which is available as a Degree Apprenticeship from September 2017. More information about the University Degree Apprenticeship Scheme is available on the staff intranet.

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