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"The importance of learning and hands on experience" - how a degree apprenticeship can benefit both industry and apprentice

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21 April 2021

Carol Rogers, Harper Adams University Apprenticeship Manager, works with a diverse range of companies who benefit from Harper Adams University degree apprenticeships. Here, she outlines her recent discussions with utilities and infrastructure specialist Dalcour Maclaren – and with some of our degree apprentices who are working for them.

 

 

I recently spoke to Mary To, Learning and Development Advisor at Dalcour Maclaren, about how the company support degree apprenticeships.

I have also spoken to apprentices Tia Bolter and Jack Green who have almost completed the third year of their Chartered Surveyor degree apprenticeship at Dalcour Maclaren, to find out how the programme has worked for them.

The Chartered Surveyor degree apprenticeship takes five years to complete, so they are within reach of achieving their apprenticeship and gaining their degree. Part of their final years of study will be to attain their Assessment of Professional Competencies (APC) and gain membership to the Royal Institute for Chartered Surveyors (RICS), alongside completing the degree and end point assessment.

Dalcour Maclaren specialise in utilities and infrastructure – their goal is to redefine land and the environment for a new era. The sectors they operate in are Power, Water, Transport and Infrastructure and Telecoms with service functions in Surveying, Geomatics, Environment and Planning and Property Asset Management.  Dalcour Maclaren are committed to embrace new technology and pioneer working relationships that deliver excellent results for all.

The company heavily invest in future talent across the whole business through their graduate programme, one-year work placements for students, shorter work experience placements and apprentices.

Tia and Jack both chose the apprenticeship route for similar reasons; they had both completed A-levels and were not entirely sure of what they wanted to do next. Neither had ruled full time university out, however both had an interest in construction or agriculture and were looking for options.

Mary said: “We understand the importance of learning and hands on experience within the industry. Rural Surveying combines many different specialisms, so it is important to equip people with these niche skills and give them the experience and exposure needed to become great surveyors. Dalcour Maclaren strongly believes in investing in future talent and the careers of young and skilled people.

“We can train apprentices from the moment they start at Dalcour Maclaren to live and breathe the core values so that this is at the heart of everything they do, and be proud of their career here. It instils a level of confidence and trust for when they are involved in projects of their own or are client facing.”

This is supported by Tia and Jack, who both said they are well supported in their apprenticeship journey. The required 20 per cent minimum off the job training is allocated each week; the apprentice will attend eight one-week blocks of teaching at university per year and are given 3.5 hours per week during work time to complete any research or assignments. The apprentices have to organise their time in order to fit this in with work, which puts the onus of learning and time management onto the apprentice. Tia said that staff are very supportive of the apprenticeship programme and will make time to help. Being able to put theory into practice while at work has helped with putting learning into context and writing assignments.

Tia and Jack both said they have grown in confidence while being on the apprenticeship; being within a professional work environment for the first time can be overwhelming, however both said they have learnt how to work effectively and professionally. Tia felt her time management had improved, along with resilience; she is used to dealing with a wide range of situations and people, and is often required to make quick decisions and negotiate on behalf of her clients.

Mary added that the apprentices are exposed to the whole business and work with a variety of people across the sectors. They are involved in project work which sees them finding the best solution to problems that may arise.

She said: “They also can put what they have learnt from their degree into practice, and that is something that we always want to give opportunities for- the ability to actively apply learning practices in a work environment”.

I asked Mary about how apprentices show a return on investment. She said that in year three of their apprenticeship, learners run their own projects with the support of their line manager. Apprentices will also meet with clients on a regular basis. Goals are set for meeting the business target and vision, alongside team objectives so apprentices feel involved and part of the bigger picture.

Jack was involved in the recruitment process of new apprentices and took part in shortlisting, interviews and an assessment day this year. He said this was a good experience, especially as he was on the other side of the fence not so long ago!

I asked Mary what advice she would give a business considering the apprenticeship route. She said that a key factor is: “Giving the right support levels for each apprentice, you need to continue the level of developmental needs as this is a five-year journey. Consider the long-term benefits of investing in an apprentice and not just focus on the short-term training elements of it.”

I asked Tia and Jack what advice they would give anyone considering a degree apprenticeship. They both said that it is a good opportunity to earn money whilst studying. You need to be organised and manage your time well in order to fit study with work. You still get a snapshot of university life during block weeks on campus and Tia felt that meeting students on full-time courses helps in the long-run, as they will be there to help while at university. Jack felt that you need to be organised and disciplined about putting time aside for off the job training; start working on assignments on receipt, so you are not rushing to complete at the last minute.

If you would like to talk to somebody about recruiting a degree apprentice, or are considering becoming an apprentice, get in touch with the apprenticeships team: apprenticeships@harper-adams.ac.uk

The university offer Level 6 and 7 apprenticeships in the following subject areas:

  • Chartered Surveyor (Rural Property pathway)
  • Geospatial Mapping and Science Specialist (Utilities pathway)
  • Food Industry Technical Professional
  • Senior Leader (Food Business Management specialism)
  • Food and Drink Advanced Engineer
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