Home News Degree apprenticeship was a ‘no-brainer’ for young entrepreneur Siân Spiers

Degree apprenticeship was a ‘no-brainer’ for young entrepreneur Siân Spiers

Apprenticeships at the University of Chichester are thriving. With nearly 200 apprentices studying across ten programmes, its students explain why they decided to take an alternative route to learning.


Degree apprentice Siân Spiers has an entrepreneurial flare unlike many others her age.

The 18-year-old had always set her heart on university but, having worked three jobs simultaneously since her mid-teens, she didn’t want to lose her unique business ability or job experience.

“A degree apprenticeship was a no-brainer,” she says, speaking about why she enrolled onto the BSc (Hons) Digital Marketing programme at the University of Chichester. “I’ve always enjoyed going to work, and earning money, so I didn’t feel the normal university route [studying for three years and getting a full-time job at the end of it] was right for me.”

The apprenticeship offers Siân something a traditional university course could not: the chance to build on her already flourishing career, earn a wage in the marketing industry, and still receive a full higher education qualification when she graduates.

While the four-year programme teaches her the key elements of digital marketing, taught by experts in the classroom, she is able to hone her skillset in a professional marketing team at the University of Chichester.

“The course requires someone who’s highly-motivated and focused,” she says. “It can be hard when you’ve had a long day at work and have to go home to finish coursework. It’s important to find a balance – so I’m always making time to socialise.”


Her flare for marketing began at a young age

Siân first noticed her skill for marketing at an early age when she would tear off the packaging from best-selling food and drink to see what made it so popular. “Innocent smoothies are my favourite brand,” she adds, “they’ve got a great balance of fun and dedication to ethical marketing.”

She is now in the unique position of both learning and earning at the University of Chichester, where she helps to market the 180-year higher education institution to students who are in the position she was in just six months ago.

“It can feel a bit strange,” she says. “I’m in a class full of students who chose Chichester because of what we did in the marketing department.

“But this can be useful: I see a lot more of the University than most which helps me do my job and makes me a valuable member of the team. I’m their key target audience so I get involved in campaigns and often they’ll bounce ideas off me.”


‘I feel I’ll be a step ahead of others when I graduate’

Sian very nearly missed out on the apprenticeship having only discovered the University of Chichester programme after finishing her A-levels. She says: “All of my friends had already applied to university and knew where they’d be going – I was set on a degree apprenticeship but, because they’ve become more popular, places were limited.”

Despite joining an apprenticeship recruitment agency, it was only after a quick online search before bed one night that she found the Chichester course – and hasn’t looked back.

“My college did try to help”, says Siân, “but everything was focused on traditional university courses. I don’t feel that schools or colleges know enough about apprenticeships or how valuable they are to those who want to do something different.”

New figures show that thousands enrolled on to degree apprenticeships in the 2018-2019 academic year. Such is the popularity that the University of Chichester has had to expand its courses to ten courses across five areas: business, digital engineering, social work, teaching.

Siân adds: “A degree apprenticeship gives you more of an understanding of the professional workplace than any university course. I know a traditional degree will give you knowledge, but an apprenticeship will give you experience of the ins and outs of a business and also working with other people, which is really valuable.

“It’s a challenge to keep on top of my workload and coursework, but I honestly feel I’ll be a step ahead of others when I graduate.”


Find out more

More about the BSc (Hons) Digital Marketing degree apprenticeship at the University of Chichester can be found at www.chi.ac.uk/bsc-hons-digital-marketing.

There’s more about National Apprenticeship Week at www.twitter.com/apprenticeships.

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