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The craft of co-creation: degree apprenticeships


As the number of people doing degree apprenticeships continues to increase, many businesses are turning to universities to co-create their own programmes as a way of developing their staff. During National Apprenticeships Week, TUI UK & Ireland’s managing director, Andrew Flintham, reflects on their partnership with the University of Hertfordshire and the success of their TUI Management Degree Apprenticeship.

“We’re the biggest holiday provider in the UK, creating experiences for over six million customers a year. Because we’re such a large organisation, there’s plenty of possibilities for a career in our business across a range of specialities – such as aviation, retail, tour operating and finance.

“We saw a great opportunity to work with a like-minded and flexible university, to co-create a bespoke degree apprenticeship programme that teaches employees the right calibre of skills and expertise in the areas most important to us.

“We began working with the University of Hertfordshire in 2017 and our fantastic partnership has allowed us to build something special. There are 16 employees on the TUI Management Degree Apprenticeship programme, made up of straight-from-school leavers to people that have progressed through our business. Our apprentices earn whilst they learn, providing an unrivalled blend of academic theory with real-world knowledge.

“Our Management Degree Apprenticeship is a four-year programme and we deliver the learning in five-day blocks, five times a year. We move apprentices to a different area of our businesses every year, so they can pick-up vital skills and networks that they can take with them throughout their career. At the end of their degree, they’re awarded with a Bachelor of Arts degree.

“We work with partners and our partnership with the University of Hertfordshire is a strong one. We have found a university that is passionate about developing top talent with hospitality, travel and leadership skills.  We wanted a university that was flexible, giving us the opportunity to truly co-create a curriculum that gives the apprentices the right foundation for a successful career in our industry.

“The accessibility of the University of Hertfordshire was also important for us; we wanted senior leaders from TUI to visit the University and teach the curriculum alongside their academics. Several of our Board members have co-facilitated modules and spent time with our apprentices at the University, bringing to life what they’re learning in the classroom and turning it into something more meaningful. This also gives the apprentices a fantastic opportunity to ask us questions about our careers, the business and its many facets. It’s great development for our senior leaders.

“Co-creating your own programme isn’t easy. You’ll need to put in the effort and everybody must be on board, but the benefits have been obvious. Because it is tailored to our industry, the apprentices can take what they learn at university and put it into practice in their day job. They’ll have a whole set of skills and experiences that many don’t get from a standard degree. We also get them at the stage of their lives where they’re eager for success.

“I’m confident that one day someone sitting at the board table will have been one of our apprentices.”

Degree apprenticeships are a cost-effective way for companies to develop the skills of their existing and new workforce by channelling investment from the apprenticeship levy. Our programmes have been created with employers to meet their skills and talent priorities. We offer a range of programmes across different specialties – including digital, legal, engineering, health, leadership and management. We welcome the opportunity to work with more businesses regionally and nationally to develop courses tailored for their industries and occupational needs.

Kate Byford

Director of Business Development at the University of Hertfordshire