Why I Chose A Degree Apprenticeship Over University

Why you should consider a Degree Apprenticeship before enrolling into University.

Today, I want to talk about why I chose the newest type of scheme, a degree apprenticeship, over the traditional university route. But before this, I want to address some of the negative connotations that are associated with apprenticeships.

Occasionally, you find people who when they hear about apprenticeships, they think of traditional roles such as construction, hairdressing amongst others. Whilst these types of apprenticeships still remain, since the introduction of the apprenticeship levy and degree apprenticeships in recent years, there has been an increase in the number of apprentices in sectors such as the financial sector, technology and entertainment companies. Whilst earning a qualification, in some cases a degree, this scheme may well put them ahead of graduates who find it difficult to find a role due to high levels of competition for graduate roles. These opportunities exist in roles such as Data Science, Software Engineering, Digital Marketing, Finance and various other fields.

Many companies upon the completion of an apprenticeship will retain their employees due to their working knowledge of the existing companies facilities. For example, within technology roles, graduates who have come from university tend to have little experience working on real-life projects with deadlines. Meaning, they are not used to programming for several hours at a time, and may not understand industry practices such as the agile methodology, where tasks are completed in a more structured way. I have found that many graduates struggle to understand concepts such as version control and have limited experience using Git, the industry-standard version control software.

However, I do not want to discredit the traditional university route, as I still believe it is an extremely valuable way to get a job within a company, and there are still many fields for which apprenticeships are not being advertised. Many of the most career-focused individuals I have met prefer the theoretical knowledge university aims to provide, rather than the more applied learning of apprenticeships.

That being said, I believe that a degree apprenticeship was the right route for me as I have a rough idea of what career I want to pursue. I believe that the opportunity to work on some of the bank’s most interesting projects, combined with the theoretical knowledge provided by the degree I will eventually earn, will provide me with a more complete learning experience.

I highly encourage any aspiring data scientists/technologists to consider apprenticeships as well as university, even if you only have a rough idea of what career you wish to pursue. If you do not feel in the right frame of mind to make a decision, there is always the opportunity to take a year off to truly find your passion. Or, if you know that university aligns with your goals within the future, seize the opportunity with both hands and don’t look back.

To summarise, I would consider an apprenticeship if you:

  • Have a rough idea of what you want to achieve in the future or if the career path you want to pursue offers an apprenticeship in the sector of work you want to pursue.
  • If you work in a creative role, generally a portfolio of work will showcase your work far more than any piece of paper could ever provide.
  • If you want to gain real-life experience for a company where you will be at the forefront of change.

On the other hand, university offers the chance to:

  • Learn a more specific skill set, I was quite fortunate in gaining a place on one of the only Data Science degree apprenticeships, however, university offers a wider range of subjects.
  • If you want to enter a profession where university is required, such as Medicine or Law. However, even then, attitudes are starting to change.
  • Have more free time, this is often overlooked however at university, you’ll have the freedom to pursue any idea you have without the constraints of a full-time job.

That is my take on apprenticeships compared with university. I found that an apprenticeship aligned with my goals, and through it, I have gained invaluable experience. However, each person should follow your gut instinct as that is generally where you will be most fulfilled within your career. All the best in your journeys and if you need any support, feel free to reach out to me.

Shaan Aucharagram
Shaan Aucharagram
Data Science Degree Apprentice

My interests include Quantitative Finance, Machine Learning and Data Viz.