As we celebrate the value of apprenticeships during National Apprenticeships Week, former University of Hertfordshire degree apprentice Jake Parrott, 25, reflects on his experience working, learning and developing as a professional at Vauxhall Motors.
“I began my apprenticeship journey as a fresh-faced 18-year-old, immediately after I left sixth form. I started as an entry-level Business Administration Apprentice at Vauxhall Motors in Luton, before progressing on to a Chartered Management Degree Apprenticeship programme with my employer and the University of Hertfordshire.
“I knew the apprenticeship route was right for me. I found the style of learning in sixth form really unmotivating; I wasn’t interested in it at all. I figured if I were to follow my classmates and study a traditional university course, it would be exactly the same. I certainly wouldn’t have pushed myself.
“My experience as an apprentice was transformative. It offered the right mix of on-the-job training and classroom-based learning that allowed me to thrive. And importantly, I was earning whilst I was learning.
“I would attend the University of Hertfordshire a couple of times a month for lectures and 1-to-1s with my tutor. Juggling a real job with part-time study was challenging, but having the flexibility to learn in my own time was great and I picked up a lot of transferable skills. For example, I learnt how to manage my time better and how to budget effectively. Also, being able to apply what I learnt at the University directly into the workplace certainly accelerated my growth as a professional.
“Even early into my apprenticeship I was able to experience restructures, takeovers, different cultures and new ways of working – experiences I learnt a lot from. I was lucky to have the opportunity to travel across the country with Vauxhall, where I was able to see up close how different parts of the business operated together to achieve the company’s objectives.
“Some of my best moments as an apprentice were when managers, mentors and tutors put their trust and faith in me. They gave me plenty of opportunities to take on more responsibilities, learn and develop. Towards the end of my course, I was working on projects for the members of Vauxhall’s board and I was given opportunities to present my work to them.
“My degree apprenticeship certainly had a big impact on my life, mindset and attitude – and I now consider myself a lifelong apprentice. I’m always looking to build on what I’ve learnt in the workplace with extra study. After successfully completing my course, I decided to move abroad and join Hult International School in Dubai, where I am now studying a master’s in international business. Like my apprenticeship, the course allows me to combine class-based theory with on-the-job training. I’ve learnt how to work well in a diverse and multicultural environment, in a student group made up of over 38 different nationalities.
“I would recommend apprenticeships to any young person thinking about their future career path. They often have a stigma associated with them, especially when you’re studying one in your early twenties, but apprentices have a lot to offer. I made a big impact during my time at Vauxhall and I believe I made a positive contribution to the business. My degree apprenticeship shaped me into the professional I am today.”
The University of Hertfordshire works in partnership with employers, including TUI and Hertfordshire County Council, to develop highly regarded apprenticeship programmes. There are now over 600 learners studying a degree apprenticeship at Herts across a range of specialities, including digital technology, leadership and management, and engineering.
To find out more about apprenticeships at Herts, visit herts.ac.uk/enterprise-zone/strengthen-your-team/apprenticeships