Earning and learning: how I secured my degree apprenticeship

An apprentice learns from a mentor in a labatory environment.
6th February 2023

By Huda, Mayor’s Fund for London Youth Board member


We’ve caught up with Huda, a Mayor’s Fund for London Youth Board member, who is currently taking part in a degree apprenticeship. Below, they tell us how they went from a dead-set university applicant to an earning learner on one of the increasingly-popular apprenticeship schemes:

I started Sixth Form with the idea that I will try hard to get the best A-level grades and attend a Russell Group university. As the first person in the family to have gone to university, it seemed like an honour and a privilege to have that opportunity, so I was just entirely focused on my academic studies to make it happen.

However, during the COVID-19 lockdowns, I spent a lot of time thinking about my future and felt that the career path I had selected was not for me and the idea of being in a lot of debt as a result of tuition fees felt like a huge responsibility to take at such a young age. In addition, I thought it might even take a while to secure a job after I had graduated – due to competition.

I decided to take the risk and take a gap year with the idea that things would hopefully work out over time. To keep myself busy and learn life skills, I started working part-time in a retail job and volunteered in my local community, as this was something I was passionate about.

In the meantime, I researched other options for my career other than attending university full-time. I learnt a lot about degree apprenticeships, Level 4 and 5 apprenticeship courses, and masters-level apprenticeships. All of which I had never heard of – neither had my peers.

I spent a lot of time trying to find my passion in a field of study that I would enjoy, however, I felt the time was working against me, so I began applying for various degrees and foundation-level apprenticeships in technology, finance, law, science, and other subjects.

I had great support from a mentor recommended by a family friend, as well as encouragement from my family and friends to never give up. It was difficult at the time, as I faced a lot of rejections, not heard back from many employers, and failed to reach the latter recruitment stages. Some of the opportunities had up to 200 applications for one place.

While my peers were starting university or attending their second year, I applied for a degree apprenticeship in public health due to volunteering and my fascination for sociology and biology.

I practised hard for the interview and it was a success.

With no stress of debts or how I will pay tuition fees over the next three years, whilst gaining lots of valuable work experience along the way, I am now attending my first year at university and working in Public Health through my degree apprenticeship with the council.

If you’d like to learn more about degree apprenticeships, visit the UCAS website for more information.