Find out why from someone who knows first-hand: Coventry University’s Head of Apprenticeships, Kerry McGreavy.

I never expected to get a degree; it just didn’t seem possible. In 2013, I was working full time, enjoying my role in the employability team at Coventry University. Spending all day supporting others to define their ambitions and explore career opportunities was hugely fulfilling – but I was asking myself the same questions. What do I want? A leadership role. How will I get there? No idea.

It turned out the answer was at my fingertips. Though it wasn’t called a Degree Apprenticeship at the time, I was able to study the equivalent. It gave me the option to study part-time while working, with training tailored exactly to my job.

I graduated with a degree in Management & Leadership in 2016, 8 days after the birth of my son. Being committed to my job and to my growing family didn’t stop me. And I firmly believe that apprenticeships could be life-changing for so many people – opening up career prospects and opportunities that they might never have considered.

How apprenticeships work

Apprenticeships allow new and existing employees to train alongside work and gain new skills. They can lead to a range of professional and academic qualifications, including undergraduate and even postgraduate degrees.

For employers, they’re a key way to retain and train high-quality staff, cutting recruitment costs. They also bring on passionate, committed employees at any level of experience. Training is tailored to the real workplace, and typically takes up one day in five each week. Costs are limited and capped, with extensive government support from the Apprenticeships Levy.

Coventry University: the UK’s leading provider

Coventry University Apprenticeships: at a glance

  • Working with over 550 employers
  • 1800 apprentices on our programmes
  • Campuses across the UK
  • Can be taught at your workplace

Coventry University offers a far broader range of apprenticeships than other Higher Education providers. Most universities offer only a handful of courses. We offer close to 40 apprenticeships (with more in development) from policing and engineering to healthcare and management, and at a range of levels. We’re serious about our commitment to this education route, with an ambition to be the UK’s leading provider. The opportunity to give more people access into education and training – this is something that’s integral to our vision.

Our broad range of programmes allows employers to benefit from apprenticeships in a variety of different job roles. For example, we work closely with employers in the private and public sectors across the country, to provide apprenticeships. This includes specialist disciplines such as healthcare, construction and finance, as well as management and leadership across all industries.

Coventry University has another huge advantage: a wide campus network, spread across the country. As well as our primary location in Coventry, apprentices can be taught through campuses in Scarborough or London. We can also deliver some of our training on an employer’s premises. This is subject and cohort dependent – some courses require specialist equipment, for example – but courses such as IT and project management can often be partly delivered in the workplace.

Finally, the breadth of knowledge and expertise available from across the Coventry University Group means, there’s so much knowledge and expertise available to build into the course and teaching.

Busting the myths

Unfortunately, apprenticeships aren’t as well understood as they could be, which leads to all sorts of misconceptions.

It’s a myth that apprenticeships are only for young people and those leaving school. In fact, our apprentices range in age from 18 to mid-50s. There’s certainly no age limit, and apprentices include senior leaders like head teachers, and senior managers in a range of fields. Our Higher and Degree Apprenticeships range from level 4 (HNC) to level 7 (Master’s) qualifications, which means that there is a course to fit every level of experience.

Another common misconception: you don’t have to find a job that’s advertised as an apprenticeship. You can search and apply for a relevant role, and once in post, ask your employer about an apprenticeship to build your skills. Employers often won’t know how to go about that, or realise the benefits (and limited costs!). That’s where my team come in. We’re always very happy to talk to employers and explain the process. Part of our role is to support the employer, just as much as the apprentice.

I know how much getting a degree meant to me. It’s opened up career opportunities that make my working life so much more fulfilling, and it’s a privilege to be in the position to help others find those opportunities too.

Find out more at Coventry University Apprenticeships.