If you are considering a career with one of the corporate employers, you may be wondering whether it is better to apply first to Uni – or to apply after A-levels for a higher or degree apprenticeship?

Last week, we explored the academic comparisons between Uni and these apprenticeships. Today, in the second of our mini-series, we are focusing on the likely employment experiences with both routes.

At Careersnearhere.com, we gather the local course and apprenticeship information together in the relevant careers rooms and have been taking a look behind the scenes to help explain what they are so that you can make a more informed choice.

Experience of work

It is critical to have ideally recent experience of the world of work: when you eventually apply for a full-time job, that experience will increase your chances of success at interview because employers tend to favour those who have relevant skills and relevant work experience.

Imagine you were told to pair up with someone for an expedition that included map reading and resourcefulness. Of all those you could consider– or interview – to go with you, the one with experience of cadets or scouts may well be your preferred partner because they already have at least some of the skills to help you achieve your goal. It is the same with employment.

A Higher or Degree apprenticeship is already centred around paid work so, if you plan to continue your career in the same sector, you will be well placed to take the next step because of this relevant experience.

However, it may be limiting if you want to look more broadly at other careers – it will depend on the content of your apprenticeship and how specialist it is.

Uni, on the other hand, is primarily centred on academic study. However, it does mean that, on graduation, you should be able to consider a lot of different career sectors because many – arguably most – employers accept a broad range of academic subjects when recruiting graduates.

And there are still plenty of opportunities to get relevant experience of the workplace if you choose the Uni route, including:

  • a Gap Year job prior to starting your degree
  • sponsored degrees (with work placements in the holidays)
  • summer Internships
  • sandwich degree courses offering a year out in industry
  • vocational degrees working closely with employers as part of the course (many offering modular work placements)
  • taking advantage of volunteering opportunities available whilst at Uni
  • the challenge comes if you choose a degree without any built-in work experience and so it will therefore be up to you to manage this before and/or during your course to best suit you.


A Higher or Degree Apprenticeship will often include specialist and transferable skills development training to enhance your value to the business.

At Uni, you may acquire specialist experience as part of the degree course content. And you may gain some general transferable skills whilst attending Uni – such as time-management.

Other transferable skills – such as customer service – can then be acquired through part-time work and/or volunteering. Whilst additional employability skills – such as leadership, communication and teamwork – can also be obtained through extra-curricular activities such as sport.


One of the benefits of any apprenticeship is that you will be getting paid for going to work.

With the higher and degree apprenticeships, some employers have extremely generous remuneration and rewards to offer school-leavers a competitive alternative to Uni. However, in general you are still unlikely to earn as much as you would as a graduate aged 21. And not all employers pay the same – so research this carefully before you decide.

Conversely, at Uni, you are only likely to get paid to be there if you have secured a sponsored degree course, scholarship or other funding.

However, you can still experience paid employment with a part-time job.

The challenge can be that in order to secure work experience that is relevant to your future career plans, you may need to take a voluntary position and that can often be over several months when an income would be beneficial to support yourself at Uni.

And finally …

There are arguments for and against the experience of work via either of these pathways.

Your choice could be based on whether you want:

  • the certainty of a specialist career path straight from school
  • to be in paid employment as soon as possible
  • to have specialist skills training as well as relevant experience in a chosen industry
  • to immerse yourself academically in your chosen subjects
  • and to what extent your chosen career path only offers one or other route

And just as we see the rise of the higher and degree apprenticeships, so the academic courses are offering more and more high-quality employer experience as part of your degree. The division is blurring, but still based on the proportion of time spent in the classroom immersed in your subject compared to learning with – and working for – an employer.

We’ve got a lot of these local academic courses and apprenticeships together in one place for you to look at on Careersnearhere.com – and a lot more expected over the next few months as the Sept-18 apprenticeships are announced. Why not take a look and see which pathway is best suited to you.

Careersnearhere.com: It’s Your Future – Let’s Get It Started!

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