Home News IT is all about dedication for software engineer Harry Finnis who turned down uni for a degree apprenticeship

IT is all about dedication for software engineer Harry Finnis who turned down uni for a degree apprenticeship

To mark National Apprenticeship Week, the University’s highlighting some of the trailblazers from its programmes who are witnessing first-hand the benefits of a degree apprenticeship and the impact on their careers.


Harry Finnis knows the meaning of hard work – for the last two-and-a-half years, the software engineer degree apprentice has commuted for as much as four hours every day to get to work or university.

“It’s a slog but it’s beautiful in the summer,” says the 20-year-old, (below), speaking about taking the fast-cat ferry from his home on the Isle of Wight to mainland Britain.

As a degree apprentice, Harry works four days each week at an IT business on the south coast and spends the fifth learning his trade at the University of Chichester. It was this alternative route to getting a degree which first drew his interest.

“When I finished sixth form, I felt that an apprenticeship was a more suitable option than a doing full-time university degree. For me, it seemed a more plausible route to a job. Besides, my course is similar to a standard degree, just adapted to fit around my work.”


‘Apprenticeships shape you into good employees which suit the business’

Harry is now in the third of his four-year degree apprenticeship, the BSc (Hons) Digital and Technology Solutions Professional (Software Engineer), which is based at the University’s new £35million Tech Park on its Bognor Regis campus (below).

It combines learning with on-the-job training to develop graduates who can make an instant impact to the IT industry – with the aim of increasing their chances of getting a job straight out of education.

“It’s really rewarding,” he adds. “Apprenticeships shape you into good employees which suit the business. You feel very much involved in the company and that gives you a lot of confidence when you go about your daily work.

“Studying in the University’s Tech Park is also a benefit because it’s an encouraging space which makes you want to continue to learn.”

Degree apprenticeships are rising in popularity, with thousands of new starters in the last year, but it is noticeable that programmes are not just attracting interest from 16 to 18-years-olds straight out of education, but also from people aged 25 and older.

“The tide is turning,” Harry adds. “People are becoming more switched-on – I’m one of six on the software engineering programme at Chichester, which had a very competitive application process.

“Apprenticeships are much more hands-on than normal university degrees – which I prefer. I actually applied to a traditional university course after sixth form, but decided against it. It was the one of the best decision’s I’ve ever made.”


Chichester’s Software Engineer apprentices look to make instant impact to the IT industry

Harry had never worked in a professional IT setting prior to his apprenticeship but feels he has become an integral part of his company. This is thanks, in part, to a unique working environment in which he changes teams every six months to experience all aspects of the firm.

“You pick up on a lot of things when you move around every few months, and you get to meet and learn from many inspirational people. I feel that I’m proving my worth to the business and will be a more-rounded professional for it.”

Knowing this is, he says, particularly valuable on his long morning commutes – when he travels from his home to the ferry port, sails to Portsmouth, gets the train to Bognor Regis, and then walks to the University’s seaside campus. 

It is this dedication to his apprenticeship which Harry will take with him when he finishes the programme and looks to start a full-time job – and begin his long career.

“I’d definitely recommend an apprenticeship to anyone,” Harry says. “You’re going to give yourself a head-start in your career, earn a wage, and still have a university degree at the end of it.

“Apprenticeships are a really valuable and exciting route.”


Find out more

Details of the BSc (Hons) Digital and Technology Solutions Professional (Software Engineer) and other degree apprenticeships at the University of Chichester can be found at www.chi.ac.uk/apprenticeships.

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

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