The Applegate Workplace Degree Programme has seen 6 young people start to earn whilst they learn, in partnership with PETROC and Plymouth University – all studying towards a BSc(Hons) in Business & Management. We are passionate about both the development of the next generation of business leaders, and tackling the renowned recruitment crisis in the South West of England. We also feel a deep routed responsibility for informing young people of their choices post-18, in the South West and Beyond. Education interests me, the stigma attached to apprenticeships frustrates me, and the Applegate Workplace Degree inspires me. As such, last week saw me taking a 13-hour round journey from North Devon to London, on a mission to inform; educate; inspire; and perhaps even recruit.

My first stop was Darrick Wood School in Orpington, Kent. Darrick Wood is a ‘World Class’ and Ofsted Outstanding school and Sixth Form with a current roll of approximately 1,800 pupils. It also happens to be my old school and sixth form!

Darrick Wood School has traditionally publicised the high number of students continuing to university – around 120 in 2017. I was therefore very pleased to provide my insights into University alternatives whilst still pursuing higher education to a room of around 500, many of whom had not considered the idea as they did not even know workplace degrees existed! It was wonderful to have students stay behind to ask questions not only about opportunities at Applegate, but also Degree Apprenticeships in a broader sense.

I also had the fantastic opportunity to meet with the Head of Careers at Ravenswood School. I am excited at the future relationship we look to build with the school who are nurturing students and enhancing apprenticeships; putting them on the same level as traditional routes to university. Plans are now coming together for a series of webinars, talks and workshops with Business, Economics & Finance Students at the school.

My final trip was to The Ravensbourne School in Bromley – an ever-evolving mixed  comprehensive for 11 – 18-year olds that opened in 1911. This was perhaps my favourite discussion. Coming down from behind a lectern on the stage to having frank, open and honest words with around 175 students was refreshing. Their questions were inquisitive, if slightly probing or cheeky(!), and showed great interest. The dynamic was fantastic, and it was great to speak about the disjunction that exists in the job market today; increasing numbers of young people obtaining degrees means you need to stand apart and be a step ahead.

Therefore, degree apprenticeships, or ‘Workplace Degrees’ (as we prefer to call them) are getting a little bit more attention. It comes down to being 23, with double the experience of someone else applying for the same graduate role as you. An idea no-doubt impossible without opportunities such as the Applegate Workplace Degree Programme.

I’d like to think I made it clear in my talks that in no way am I or Applegate trying to put young people off of going straight to university. I think, however, it is very important to make them aware that the job market & higher education are both changing, and this is creating different paths to graduate job roles. It is fantastic that Applegate are taking a wider interest in educating young people, and inspiring them to break the mould where traditional routes to university aren’t for them.

On top of all this, it was a pleasant surprise to speak with Rt Hon Joseph Johnson MP, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation & MP for Orpington, who took a great interest in who we are, what we do, and the fantastic scheme we run here at Applegate. We look forward to working with multiple Government Ministries. I’m excited to say that we have spoken with UCAS, who applaud the programme and not only the degree it offers, but the two further management qualifications, particularly membership of the Chartered Institute of Managers.

I hope that the trip was beneficial for students and teachers alike – it certainly opened my eyes to the challenges faced in apprentice recruitment, as well as the huge opportunities we can look forward to in working with such fantastic young people.

Interested in the Applegate Workplace Degree or want to find out more? Email

If you’re interested in organising a talk for your Sixth Form, College, or Level 3 Apprentices – contact me on 0345 600 7177 or email - I’d be happy to help!

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