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Why Apply for a Degree Apprenticeship in 2020

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National Apprenticeship Week (3rd – 9th February 2020) is the time to find out more about apprenticeships and the benefits that you can make the most of.

To help, the Society for the Environment has been talking to people in the know about the new Environmental Practitioner Degree Apprenticeship to dig a little deeper!

As a taster, here’s the top three reasons for doing a degree apprenticeship by Ishaaq Saleem, a first year Environmental Practitioner Degree Apprentice with Mott McDonald and studying part-time at Kingston University, London:

  1. Five years of valuable work experience gained whilst studying a degree at the same time
  2. Money! My tuition fees are covered by my employer and I get paid a good salary
  3. The opportunity to learn from experienced professionals every day on different projects.

Picture the scene – you’re midway through your second year of A-Levels sat in the library trying to find the motivation to revise for upcoming exams, when the subject of next year comes up. One friend is set on a degree in Geography, another friend is starting a photography business with family help and a third is getting an entry job at a recruitment firm. But another option mentioned by the Head of Sixth Form has caught your eye – an Environmental Practitioner Degree Apprenticeship. So, how does it work? Why don’t I just do a “normal” degree? And, do apprentices recommend it?

Let’s start with a current apprentice experiencing an apprenticeship first-hand; “Honestly, I’m really enjoying it. I can say I’ve had no regrets with the decision I’ve made [to go down the apprenticeship route]. I come across a new challenge every day, which for me is very exciting when I go in to work. It’s quite a cliché thing to say, but it’s what gets me out of bed in morning – it gives me real motivation.”

These are the positive words of Ishaaq, who also noted top three reasons for doing a degree apprenticeship above. But, why a degree apprenticeship and not a standard three-year full-time degree?

“I’m getting the same degree. Yes, it takes two years longer, but for me that extra two years is worth it because of the work experience I get. I’m getting five years of valuable on the job, processive experience, compared to those on a full-time degree who might just have two years after graduating by the same time.”

To add to this, Jennifer Coupland, Chief Executive of the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) answered the question Why not just do a degree?

“If you are keen to build your professional experience while acquiring a qualification, and get paid while learning, then an apprenticeship is the path for you.

Organisations are seeking to promote sustainable growth in a manner that is practical and responsible. These apprenticeships, which are open to all ages, can help them do this through using fewer natural resources, producing less waste, and without compromising the quality of the built and natural environment.”

Now let’s look into the environmental focus of this degree apprenticeship. Could an apprenticeship help save the planet? Jennifer thinks so: “If you want to dedicate your life to protecting our environment – then an apprenticeship could be the right option for you.

The environmental practitioner degree apprenticeship is training the next generation of people who will help save the environment through their jobs. The role involves finding solutions that maintain, enhance and minimise environmental impacts.

For example, you could be designing costal defences against the effects of climate change or developing renewable technology that could be used to improve transport systems.”

To support this, on a special apprenticeship podcast by the Society for the Environment, Ishaaq confirmed that through his work with Mott MacDonald, he certainly believes that he is making a difference for the environment (podcast to be released at 00:01 on Weds 5th Feb 2020). Plus, Ishaaq’s course leader at Kingston University, Dr Penelope Wilson, adds her view on the need to increase the number of knowledgeable environmental professionals entering the sector:

“With an increasing number of critical environmental issues that planet Earth faces, it is more important than ever that academia entices bright, passionate, determined and positive minds to study environmental sciences at university.”

Penelope continues by providing a bit of insight into the studying element of the degree apprenticeship and what you can expect to learn and experience: “We are excited to be the first Academic Institute to be running a Level 6 Environmental Practitioner Degree Apprenticeship programme. Our BSc degree tackles all of the key environmental issues we face today, including climate change, air pollution, ecological pressures, water security, and how to improve sustainability and build more resilient towns and cities. Accredited by IEMA, our programme provides the knowledge needed to succeed as an Environmental Scientist working for an array of industries. Work-based modules and assignments allow the apprentice to explore a topic/issue that is pertinent to their employer through academic-led research with support and discretion. Kingston’s personalisation of learning and extra-curricular activities help the Apprentice to feel part of the academic community from the get-go.

Plus, economical flexi-accommodation offered by Kingston University also helps to take the pressure off long distance commuter Apprentices, allowing them opportunity to get some rest before or after a day at university before heading back to the workplace.”

All good news so far! So let’s recap for a moment – at the end of your five year apprenticeship you have a BSc Environmental Science degree, five years of valuable, progressive, on the job experience, no tuition fee loans to pay off, five years of salary and the knowledge and skills to set them up for a career in this professional sector. But that is not all, as Head of Licensing, Registration and Standards at the Society for the Environment, Geoff Atkins, explains: “Our core aim is to ensure the skill and expertise of environmental professionals from all sectors is recognised via two professional registrations – the Chartered Environmentalist (CEnv) register and the Registered Environmental Technician (REnvTech) register.

However, with the introduction of the Environmental Practitioner Degree Apprenticeship came new, exciting opportunities for aspiring environmental professionals. In response to the new degree level apprenticeship we plan to introduce a new Registered Environmentalist (REnv) register in 2020, which apprentices completing the degree apprenticeship can achieve, thereby gaining professional recognition for their knowledge and expertise acquired throughout the apprenticeship.”

To conclude, the final word goes to Geoff:

“This is a fantastic new entry route for the environmental profession, providing an additional pathway for future environmental leaders and increasing the diversity of those able to gain an environmental degree. Find out more at socenv.org.uk/Environmental-Practitioner-App or search for advertised apprenticeships at gov.uk/apply-apprenticeship

Employers are currently actively recruiting for the Environmental Practitioner Degree Apprenticeship for a September 2020 in-take. A selection of the job adverts are now listed on the Society for the Environment’s website, here.

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