Earning whilst learning: the rise of degree apprenticeships

As the number of degree apprenticeship programmes continues to rise, many people are choosing them as a flexible way to earn whilst they learn. During National Apprenticeship Week, Jessica Garner reflects on what it has been like to study a degree apprenticeship with TUI and the University of Hertfordshire.

“I’d never felt that the traditional college and university route was right for me. When I left school at 16, I worked for TUI in one of their local shops before I had the opportunity to live and work abroad. My time away from the family home in Somerset told me that I was no longer a homebird and when I returned to the UK, age 21, I was ready for my next challenge.

“Former colleagues at TUI told me about an opportunity to join their head office as a management degree apprentice. I didn’t think for one moment I was the right candidate; I hadn’t gone to college. But my application was successful, and I decided to relocate to Luton to be closer to their head office. The first month went by so quickly. I’d moved into a house share with five people I didn’t know who were on the same course as me. Luckily, because they had all relocated too and we shared similar experiences we ended up bonding pretty quickly.

“The best part of my apprenticeship so far has been experiencing different parts of the business and working with different teams. During the four-year programme, we move between four different departments each year and this has already opened the door to so many opportunities. I’m looking forward to working closely with the new cohort of apprentices starting this year, showing them the ropes and being a friendly face.

“My school wanted pupils to go to college and university once they finished their GCSEs and apprenticeships didn’t feel like a viable option. There is far more awareness of them now and if you’re looking at what to do next and don’t want to go down the traditional full-time study route, then see what apprenticeships are available. Many big companies will attend career fairs or have them on their website, so search around and do whatever you think is best for you.

“You learn so much in the first few months and it can be a bit daunting at first, but if you dive in and enjoy yourself, you’ll absorb things and learn so much. I don’t know what the future holds, but I’m enjoying the degree apprenticeship programme and I look forward to continuing my career in the travel industry.”

The TUI Management Degree Apprenticeship is completely different to any type of learning I had done before. You grow up so quickly, balancing work with study at university, and it can be really challenging but it’s been a great way to learn. Senior managers from TUI visit the University of Hertfordshire to co-teach the apprenticeship, linking theory with how it works in head office. This helps me take the skills I’ve learnt at university and apply them directly to my job.

Jessica Garner, Apprentice