James Trumper, is a sixth-generation member of the family-owned Neville Trust group of businesses based in Luton that includes Neville Special Projects, Neville Joinery and Neville Funerals. He made the decision that a degree apprenticeship, that will lead to him being fully qualified as a Quantity Surveyor via the programme offered by Westminster University, was the choice that best suited his needs, and his future plans.
James, who is the third generation of the Neville family to have attended Westminster University, following in the footsteps of his great grandfather, great uncle and grandfather, explains why this more vocational route appealed. “It seemed to me to really offer the best of both worlds. A lecture hall environment at Westminster University for the academic learning for my degree alongside the practical classroom of my everyday workplace, whether that be on or off-site. As well as being able to put my theoretical learning into practice almost immediately, which gives me hands-on experience, I also earn a salary and end up with a degree without the burden of a student loan.
“What I’m also realising is that employers are impressed that you can demonstrate direct experience of working in a business.
“When I talk friends and family through the benefits of following this path, reactions are really very similar – it’s an absolute no brainer and why wouldn’t you.”
For employers, hiring an apprentice at all levels can be a productive, cost-effective way to expand or upskill their workforce and provides a solution to short term and long term skills shortages – with a cohort of home-grown talent and a new generation of young and aspiring employees who are informed about the training and development options open to them and willing to access them. And awareness of higher level degree apprenticeships are now being more widely offered by some universities and appreciated by employers.
Apprentices attend university one day per week during term time, whilst also working in a salary related role. Receiving both on and off-the-job specialist training Westminster University apprentices also have the possibility of gaining additional professional accreditations depending on the course. This differs from the usual undergraduate degree as there are no tuition fees required from the student, and instead, fees are paid for by the employer and government, meaning there is no need for a student loan.
Apprentices also receive additional support through regular tripartite reviews (taking place between the apprentice, employer and Westminster University).
As explained by BDO Global, apprenticeships can still overlooked by young people. More than half believe that the award of a university degree makes it easier to earn a higher salary, than if they were to take the apprenticeship route. And more than a third of students believe they are less likely to reach the most senior position within a company if they do an apprenticeship. But it is argued that this misconception is on the turn. Rising student debt and the cost of living crisis is prompting parents, students and schools to revisit the apprenticeship option – with favourable results.
The University of Westminster offers a range of higher and degree apprenticeships at undergraduate and postgraduate level (Level 4 to Level 7) supporting various sectors. Their programmes combine academic study, practical experience, and the wider employment skills for career success.
Zsuzsanna Matyak, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Officer from Westminster University explains: “As a progressive university, we look forward and anticipate what’s changing across industries and student perceptions. Embracing the new with energy and imagination, allows us to develop apprenticeship programmes that provide our students with the skills that they need.
“The University is known for the many ways in which we help our 19,000 students to realise their full potential, regardless of background. Our teaching is practical, relevant and contemporary, while our research is driven to make an impact in the world. We want people to realise that apprenticeships are a viable option for many individuals and employers, helping to plug the skills gap that many industries are facing.”