Degree Apprenticeships in the Workplace

HURRAH! Our 2 new Digital and Technology Solution (DTS) Degree Apprentices have finally joined the Payara Engineering team ….and it’s been such a wait!

Recruitment of UK (DTS) Degree Apprentices is an unusual challenge as the business must think and act like an academic institution. Instead of the usual short hiring cycle, hiring a Degree Apprentice often takes longer than  a full academic year as initial advertising has to take place at the start of the school year (September) to fall in line with Year 13 options around University education. Candidates apply for Degree Apprenticeships at the same time as University places, and interviews/offers need to be timed to coincide with University offers during the following Spring. Once the successful applicant has accepted the offer, there is a long wait until November of the following Academic year before they start with Payara… so there is a lot of work done to keep in touch during that time.

New apprentices James and Kalin
Our 2 new apprentices, James and Kalin

Why Should a Business Consider Degree Apprenticeships?

Degree Apprenticeships are continuing to grow in the UK as an option of choice for those about to enter Higher Education as they offer a fantastic alternative to the traditional academic route into a career. The advantages of Degree Apprenticeships are many but mainly focus around 2 areas:

Finance – Full Salary and no student loan for the Apprentice and almost fully funded training for the employer

Work Experience – For the student, 4.5 years of industry experience will put them ahead of their peers studying at a traditional Uni and for the employer it gives a chance to train a worker to match the business requirements supported by degree theory.

I’ve not Heard of Degree Apprenticeships?

One of the largest challenges SME businesses face around Degree Apprenticeships is the lack of information and support. There are issues around matching the funding of the Levy payers to the SME market, finding Universities that offer Degree Apprenticeships in the local area, and attracting candidates by advertising the positions in the correct locations. To combat these challenges Payara has taken a proactive role in promoting apprenticeships. We have developed a Grow Our Own (GOOey) Strategy that aims to work with local schools and colleges to promote STEM activities at early stages, to attend workshops and careers fairs to educate and inform parents and students of the benefits of Degree Apprenticeships, and also to work with Government bodies to educate school careers teams about Degree Apprenticeships as an alternative to University.

This multi-faceted approach lays the groundwork for our recruitment strategy and builds a pipeline of potential candidates from the local area who can apply for a Degree Apprenticeship with us. This means we are securing our future workforce at an early stage which leads to business stability and resilience.  Investing in our Apprentices allows us to meet business needs now, and through succession planning meet the needs of the future business. We can develop individual Degree Apprentice career plans and show them how progression can be achieved in a continuous way once the Apprenticeship is over.

This approach works for us and benefits our business greatly.

What do Degree Apprentices Bring to a Team?

Our Degree Apprentices bring enthusiasm, commitment, loyalty, fresh ideas and a sense of humour and excitement to everything they do. Working with an Apprentice in the team allows more senior professionals to share their knowledge and experiences and know they are helping to grow someone just starting out in their career, and that is a very satisfying feeling on its own.

We expect a lot from our Degree apprentices. We start their professional and soft skill development almost on day 1. We expect them to show responsibility, time management, accountability, and effective communication skills straight away. We aim to further develop in them skills sets around assertiveness, project management, presentation skills, collaborative team working and taking responsibility for others. By offering a wide variety of opportunities across the business, in HR, Recruitment, Marketing and Sales, we give them a broad understanding of how a business works and how they can directly help the business grow, connecting their work in tech, engineering and software development to real world customers and their needs.

A Success Story!

As they say, the proof is in the pudding. I’m sure that if you asked any of our current apprentices “Do you think you made the right decision to follow the apprenticeship route?”, the answer  would be a resounding  “YES!”

Payara is very proud of its Apprenticeship program and the individuals in it. However, due to Covid 19,  new challenges face us in the form of ‘Apprenticeships in a Virtual world’. Adaption and change are essential, but with the help of our current apprentices we will be up to the challenge!

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