Digital and Technology solutions 2020Watch
Quick guides to apprenticeships
Im thinking about taking the degree apprenticeship route instead of a fulltime physics degree. I wanted to go into a computer science related field afterwards anyway so it seems worth it to get 4 years of experience, a degree and get paid for it. Does anybody know what companies would actually see the degree apprenticeship in digital and technology solutions as something valuable?
- Is this person going to be able to cope with the type of work?
- Will they be able to learn new things quickly?
- Do they seem to be clued-up about technology?
- Have they got any experience doing anything similar?
- Do they seem enthusiastic about their career choice?
- Is their personality a good fit for the company?
- Are they a good communicator?
You don't need to be accredited by a professional body in order to do that kind of work either (which can be the case with some careers like medicine); most of them are "anyone can do it as long as they've got the skills" type professions - that includes people who are self-taught or switched careers from a non-IT background.
Computer science graduates are obviously good candidates for a lot of entry-level IT jobs because they'll have spent 3 years studying the subject and should be expected to have learned a lot in that time. Particularly if they had an industrial placment, and depending on the quality of their final year project too. By the same token, an apprenticeship means learning alongside co-workers/mentors and being "hands on" with technology 4 days a week non-stop for 3-4 years, so you're always going to learn more about your chosen profession by actually doing it than by sitting in lectures and studying to pass exams. Realistically, by the end of 3-4 years of the apprenticeship I would expect most employers would see you as a "mid-level" professional, which is a couple of steps beyond where most people start out as a fresh graduate.
The things you'd really be missing out from not going to university (at least, any reasonably high-ranked academic university around the 'top 20' anyway) will be having the academic background if you had any future plans to move into any kind of serious postgraduate study or moving into something like research/PhD or other academic careers. Similarly, you'd be very unlikely to spend any time at all on the mathematical or theoretical side of things during the apprenticeship either.
Some fields such as AI, Machine Learning and Data Science do benefit a lot from having a mathematical background because they're based around things like statistical analysis and probability modelling (But the degree-apprenticeship should make you eligible for applying to study on a Masters for those things). On the other hand, fields like Software engineering, networking, DevOps, web development, etc.aren't really mathematical at all.
Overall, (aside from the fact that they cost you nothing and don't land you in a mountain of debt) apprenticeships are ideal for people who have firmly made up their mind to break into careers like Networking or Software Engineering. A degree is probably more appropriate if you wish to learn a broader set of skills, or if you prefer academia and studying, or just want to keep your options open.