Returning to university was a ‘dream come true’ for Strathclyde Graduate Apprentice Janine McFarland.
With this week Scottish Apprenticeship Week, which celebrates the benefits apprenticeships bring to businesses, individuals and the economy, she has shared her experience as an apprentice on Strathclyde’s Business Management course.
The University runs five Graduate Apprenticeship courses which provide a fully-funded route to a degree, allowing people to study and complete their degrees while also developing their career through fulltime employment.
Janine, 31, who works as a Regional Manager for Career Ready, a UK wide charity linking employers with schools and colleges, said: “I was last in education around ten years ago and it has been my ambition to return to university study for many years.
"I am so grateful to all involved in the programme for making this possible amidst a busy work and home life.
“Not only is this the opportunity to study in a world class institution with first class teaching staff who so evidently want the programme and each student to be successful, but it is also the opportunity to be part of a diverse community of learners and gain so much from the experience of others on the course.
To have the opportunity to study at this level with no need to sacrifice career or earning potential, and in fact boost this simultaneously, is such a privilege."
Graduate Apprenticeships have been created by Skills Development Scotland in partnership with employers, universities and colleges and professional bodies to create stronger links between education and industry.
David Guthrie, a Together Energy employee on the Strathclyde Business Management Graduate Apprenticeship Programme, said: “At almost 50 years of age I thought that the opportunity to attend University had passed me by.
“Without courses like this one, that would most definitely still be the case.
“The knowledge I have gained so far is already paying dividends in my job and I can honestly say that I am really enjoying learning.”
Shona Darroch, the HR Manager and a Graduate Apprenticeship Employer partner at Glasgow-based Castle Precision Engineering, said the firm is using the graduate apprenticeships as a way to develop and retain employees.
She added: “Being a small to medium sized company it can be difficult to retain high quality staff when there is competition from bigger companies.
“This is an opportunity for our employees to see a career path that was not there before. They are excited about the prospect of getting a degree whilst still working and it is a huge incentive for them.
“The delivery and support is phenomenal. I can talk first hand on how the students are supported having had one of our team already through his first year.”
Graeme Ogilvie from Castle Precision Engineering is on the Engineering Design & Manufacture Graduate Apprenticeship course and says he sees it as a ‘great opportunity’ for personal development and his career.
He said: “I have particularly enjoyed the challenge of the hands-on projects within the design and the electrical modules.
“As the course has progressed it has given me more confidence as I know I’m capable of studying and working full time at the same time.”
Carole-Anne Simpson from Spirit Aerosystems, who is on the Business Management graduate apprentice programme, said: “After 13 years of concentrating on being a mum, I am back to focusing on my career and doing what I love most – learning.
“The online learning is perfect as it suits my busy life of being a working mum who is studying at the same time.
“The subjects are interesting, diverse and relevant, providing an all-round greater knowledge of business which should ultimately offer better career opportunities for my future.”
Vice-Principal of the University of Strathclyde,Professor Scott MacGregor, said: “We are delighted to offer Graduate Apprenticeships which offer individuals increased opportunities to learn while in employment and develop their career.
“Our close links with industry mean that we can design, develop and deliver tailored work based degree programmes that suit the needs of both the learner and the employer.”
Strathclyde offers Graduate Apprenticeship degrees in MSc Cybersecurity, BEng (Hons) Civil Engineering –BEng (Hons) Engineering: Design and Manufacture, BSc (Hons) IT: Software Development and BA (Hons) Business Management/Financial Services.
The growth of Graduate Apprenticeships supports the Scottish Government’s ambition to create 30,000 apprenticeship jobs a year by 2020.