Norwich School Blog

Spotlight On : Onward Routes – Degree Apprenticeships And Training Contracts With Employers

Here at Norwich School we are delighted to celebrate the talented diversity of our Upper Sixth cohort as UCAS (universities and colleges admissions service) offers continue to roll in.

Following on from blog posts on STEM university offers and then on offers for creative courses, we have chosen to focus on offers pupils have for direct training with employers in this post. A huge variety of exciting opportunities with employers are now available to school leavers, almost all combining paid employment with training and further qualifications. The number of degree apprenticeships available in the UK is now four times what it was five years ago; our pupils who gain offers from this highly competitive option will work for a leading employer who trains them, pays them and pays for them to complete a full university degree alongside their employment.

This blog post asks three pupils about the offers they have from employers, why they have chosen this onward route and the application process that led to their offers.


Jasper Bird

Tell us about the degree apprenticeship offer you have received.

I have recently received an offer from the Atomic Weapons Establishment for a Nuclear Engineering - Electrical Degree Apprenticeship. This involves working on and maintaining the nuclear warheads that AWE supply to the UK’s nuclear deterrent, Trident. 

You also applied through UCAS for 'normal' degree course and have received several offers from top universities. What attracted you to applying to employers for a degree apprenticeship as a preferred route to this?

The opportunity of a degree apprenticeship stood out to me for a range of reasons. Firstly, I like the idea of having some on the job practical experience during my course which should prepare me well for developing a career in the nuclear sector. I was also attracted by the fact that I will be able to avoid student debt and have a steady income which rises every year of my apprenticeship. 

How did you apply for your degree apprenticeships and what did the application process involve?

I used the government apprenticeship website to find this apprenticeship. The process involved a series of questions to begin and some maths-based assessments to test my suitability for the job. After progressing through this stage, I had a virtual interview which really tested my ability to fulfil the role. This involved a behavioural interview which tested how I would react to different scenarios and additionally examples of times where I have demonstrated skills appropriate to the job. On top of this I had a practical interview which had specific physics and maths-based questions to test my knowledge of areas related to the job. Finally, there was a team activity in which involved being set with a task where we had to present on our findings after collaborating as a team. 

How did Norwich School help you achieve this offer?

Norwich School helped with its futures session based on degree apprenticeship which showed me the several advantages they can offer and attracted me towards applying. 

How will your degree apprenticeship work?

The course is split between the AWE base in Reading and time at the National College for Nuclear, Southern Hub in Somerset. Here I will work towards a degree in Nuclear Engineering - Electrical and learn the fundamental skills which I can then apply when on the job in Reading. The apprenticeship lasts for 4 years with a guaranteed position at the end if you meet the standards expected. 

What else have you been involved in at Norwich School outside of academic work? Will you be able to continue these activities when you start your degree apprenticeship in the autumn?

Outside of school I play a lot of football and will look to continue to pursue this when on the apprenticeship. There are many opportunities for this in and around the area where I am working, and I look forward to this change. 


Emma Hurrell

Tell us about the degree apprenticeship offer(s?) you have received.

I received two offers, one from TW Gaze and one from Maxey Grounds. 

You initially applied through UCAS for a 'normal' degree course and were the first person in the whole upper sixth cohort to receive five offers. What then attracted you to applying to employers for a degree apprenticeship instead?

I was always considering a degree apprenticeship, but because of  the combination of the timing of degree apprenticeship applications (usually in the Lent term) and the deadline for UCAS applications (Christmas), I wanted to also apply for a full time university courses to give me options. The opportunity to gain real work experience to complement the study I am going to undertake at university was the main reason a degree apprenticeship is such an attractive route for me, plus the chance to be paid whilst studying too.

How did you apply for your degree apprenticeships and what did the application process involve?

I researched companies who had supported graduates through their APC or had current apprentices on the same career pathways I am interested in. Following on from this, I drafted a letter stating my ambition to train to become a chartered rural surveyor and asked if the company had any opportunities available. From this I had an overwhelmingly positive response, I had many initial phone conversations which led to 3 in-person interviews and my two offers.

How did Norwich School help you achieve this offer?

I had support from Mrs James in discussing various career and course routes, but actually most of the process was achieved independently of the school. 

How will your degree apprenticeship work?

I will work full time at TW Gaze, Wymondham, with 1 week a month at Harper Adams University studying for a RICS accredited degree in Rural Enterprise and Land Management. The apprenticeship will last for 5 years, after which I will be able to complete my final APC assessment to qualify as a Chartered Rural Surveyor within 6 months of completing my degree.


Zak Jones

Tell us about the training contract offers you have received.

I have received 2 full time training offers in accountancy, starting in September. I have chosen to accept the School Leaver Trainee position for Larking Gowen.

You also applied through UCAS for accounting and finance degree course and received offers from all five universities you applied to. What attracted you to applying to employers for training contracts as well as this?

I attended the Norwich School Careers Fair last year and spoke with both graduates and school leavers to hear about their experiences with the training. I visited an accountancy office to speak with staff there too and felt that on the job training seemed a good option as I will be earning and qualifying at the same time. I will then also have experience within the workplace which I feel is valuable. I also applied for the universities to enable me to make an informed decision on which route to qualifying as an accountant would be best suited to me.

How did you apply for your training contracts and what did the application process involve?

I searched online at various companies to see when the applications were due in. The first stage was to send in my CV along with predicted grades and completed their application form which involved answering many questions about myself and why I wanted to become an accountant. Following success at this stage, all successful candidates were invited to complete aptitude assessments (numerical and verbal reasoning tests). The final stage was an invitation to an assessment day where I had to take part in many activities and interviews with the partners and current managers.

How did Norwich School help you achieve this offer?

Norwich School assisted initially with attending the Careers Fair, and Mrs James reviewed my CV before I sent in my application. Her and many staff also helped talked through my options to help me decide.

What do the training contracts that you've been offered entail?

I have been offered a School Leavers Trainee Accountant position working within the Farms and Landed Estates department in Diss. Initially I will be training for my AAT exams with a view to completing ACA. The training will be a mix of day release and block release to be confirmed when I commence work. The whole process to fully qualify will be 5-6 years.

What else have you been involved in at Norwich School outside of academic work?

For Norwich School, I have been part of the rugby first XV and VII, alongside the football first team. I have also enjoyed volunteering last year for Able2Be.