University of Exeter apprentices Ashley, James and Jordanna presented a sculpture to Mike Blakely, Director of Apprenticeships at Exeter College.

From engineering to IT: 1,000 Exeter students become apprentices

University of Exeter apprentices have helped Exeter College celebrate sending its 1,000th apprentice to hundreds of employers around the city.

Exeter College's Apprenticeship programme has won numerous awards for training and delivery, including recently being awarded TEF Gold for their University Level Teaching and Learning.

The College works with a network of over 850 employers across the South West, including the University of Exeter which has set up a unique scheme linking apprenticeships to academic degrees. Students will earn whilst they learn, gaining a full University of Exeter degree, setting them up for a successful career in their chosen specialisation and increasing their potential for high salary occupations.

University of Exeter apprentices Ashley White, James Rutley and Jordanna Broom presented a sculpture to Mike Blakely, Director of Apprenticeships at Exeter College, to celebrate the milestone of 1,000. The sculpture was made by workshop staff using engineering parts. Ashley, James and Jordanna work with academics, designing and producing equipment needed for their research.

Jordanna, 20, said: “I’m finding this work really enjoyable. I enjoy the fact we rotate around different workshops every four months, using different equipment.”

Ashley, 19, is a former West Exe School pupil. He was encouraged to start studying for an apprenticeship by a teacher.

“I really enjoy working with such a variety of machinery,” he said.

James, 22, took A-levels in physics, mathematics, computing and history before studying for his apprenticeship.

“The best part of this job is that we carry out such a range of different activities,” he said.

Degree apprenticeship enable you to achieve a full Bachelor’s or Master’s degree, and are a high quality valid alternative to university, with the qualifications to match. Students will graduate on completion of their degree apprenticeship, and will have gained three to five years’ work experience along the way. An apprenticeship is a real job with an embedded training and development package.

Apprenticeships are not the easy option. They are a high-quality prestigious alternative to further and higher education. Apprentices are expected to work hard in both their study and at their job to successfully complete their apprenticeship, and are monitored and assessed along the way. The final hurdle for degree apprentices is their end point assessment, which is the culmination of all their hard work and experience.

The University of Exeter employ apprentices across a wide range of occupations, such as business administration, engineering, industrial plumbing and heating, childcare, IT and more.

“We look forward to continuing, and strengthening, our partnership with Exeter College to embed apprenticeships into our workforce.” said Jonathan Cresswell Head of Apprenticeships, University of Exeter

“We are delighted to help give young people from the South West a foot on the career ladder and give them valuable experience of the world of work. Apprenticeships encourage continuous improvement, enhance the diversity of our workforce and help to increase social mobility. The apprentice benefits from earning a competitive wage, and gains valuable on the job experience along with a recognised qualification. As an employer we benefit from apprentices as they bring a fresh approach to their jobs, add value, and have a positive Impact on the rest of our workforce.”

The University of Exeter offer a wide range of apprenticeship opportunities ranging from intermediate to degree level in a variety of occupations. The University currently employs 14 apprentices from the South West. It is preparing to offer a further 29 apprenticeships to local students and our current staff over the next few months. Many of the apprentices are offered permanent jobs with the university following successful completion of their apprenticeship.

Joshua Everett, who did an apprenticeship in IT between 2012 and 2015 at the University of Exeter, said: "Getting hands on experience in the workplace was very valuable and the idea of earning an income whilst learning sounded great. The University was right for me as there is a great variety of tasks and there is always something interesting happening due to it being such a large organisation."

Nadia Diaper, current apprentice in Business Administration, said: "Doing this apprenticeship has really broadened my horizons and I love it. I was welcomed as part of the team from the offset and I often forget that I am an apprentice because they treat me like any other staff member and trust me to manage important documents. I feel extremely lucky that I have been given the chance to be a Business Administration Apprentice at the University of Exeter and that I will be walking away with fantastic life experience as well as a qualification! I would whole heartedly advise those looking for education to consider an apprenticeship!"

Georgie Rand current apprentice in Plumbing and Heating said: "The University apprenticeship for commercial gas is probably one of the most unique in the country, just with the sheer scope of applications, the fact that we’ve ran our own £10 million gas network, we support and manage fixed gas systems for research buildings, gas safety systems, pneumatics, etc. I’m confident that there’s not another job in the country that can offer such a broad scope as Exeter does. I mostly enjoy working with such friendly and experienced people that are always happy to share their knowledge with me."

George Ricketts, who started as an apprentice and now has a job working as an Engineering Research Technician at the University, said: “Through my apprenticeship I learnt many skills and techniques from the other technicians, and once the apprenticeship finished it allowed me to successfully apply for a full time position within the team. I was able to do a lot of hands on work from the first day which allowed me to develop my skills over the course of the apprenticeship. I was also getting paid. My experience of being an apprentice was very good because I learnt a lot of skills and after my apprenticeship the University took me on and I'm now a full time member of the engineering team”.

The University of Exeter apprenticeship strategy aims to ‘grow our own’ talent from local young people, and enhance skills of our existing staff to meet our existing and future skills gaps.

The university offers Intermediate, Advanced and Higher level early career apprenticeships. Members of the current workforce are also offered enhanced opportunities to retrain and improve their skills.

Date: 27 July 2017