Blazing a Trail in degree apprenticeships

5 Mar 2019

In National Apprenticeship Week (4-8 March), the University of Winchester, employer Fujitsu and a Fujitsu-Winchester degree apprentice, outline how new degree apprenticeship programmes benefit businesses, their employees and universities and help foster the next generation of top digital talent.

Stella McKnight, Director of Employer Partnerships, University of Winchester

Degree apprenticeships are a brilliant way to study for a degree while working in a professional role and environment, delivering the best of both worlds.

At Winchester, we are leading the way in delivering programmes in digital and technology solutions that meet the needs of industry employers and apprentices and foster the next generation of digital 'trailblazers'.

We work in partnership with Fujitsu, supporting them in attracting and retaining their top digital talent. We have worked together since 2014, with Fujitsu apprentices in each of our four cohorts of students to date. Fujitsu has apprentices with us on both our Digital and Technology Solutions degree apprenticeship and our Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship. They are all developing the high-level skills and knowledge they need to further their careers and become digital specialists who are in tune with the future needs of their industry.

We design our programmes in close collaboration with employers, tailoring them to ensure that apprentices develop the high-level skills they and their employers need in increasingly competitive markets. Our programmes also maintain the excellent standards of teaching and learning that the University is renowned for and combine the academic depth and discipline of a Winchester degree, combined with learning in the workplace.

Ben Young, second year BSc (Hons) Digital and Technology Solutions, Fujitsu

Apprenticeships are a great way to complete further training in both a practical and supportive environment. It is often a common misconception that apprenticeships are just for those that are not smart enough to get into university: in fact, many apprentices are more dedicated individuals that thrive better in a more practical environment. With my employer, Fujitsu, and my course provider, the University of Winchester, I am completing a degree level apprenticeship, through which I will gain a bachelor's degree with honours, the same level of qualification as most other university students.

One of the greatest benefits that I have found about apprenticeships is that, as well as completing your qualification, you are also gaining a wealth of experience and knowledge in your role. This experience helps to massively increase your employability and to accelerate your career. I have also found that working with professionals on workplace projects has allowed me to learn much faster with the support that they offer.

I am in a software development role where I have gained a lot of experience developing applications and application extensions in C# and have been given exposure to new, emerging technologies such as Kubernetes and Docker. As well as this, Fujitsu has given me many opportunities to get involved in responsible business, customer and apprentice events, that have further enhanced my development and helped me to increase my understanding of the organisation.

Another benefit of apprenticeships is that your employer pays for your course whilst paying you a salary, allowing you to upskill and further your learning without the overhead cost that other university students must face. This means that, as well as being in a better position than most university students with respect to experience, you are also in a much better position financially. Throughout my apprenticeship so far, I have been able to save for my future, whilst still having enough money left over to go out and enjoy myself.

Overall, my experience as an apprentice has been wholly rewarding and is helping me to propel my future career. Fujitsu has created a great scheme that is allowing me to find time for both my work and university assignments, all whilst being in a supportive environment with a great network of apprentices in similar positions. I feel that apprenticeships are amazing opportunities that allow those who prefer to learn practically to gain new qualifications and a wealth of useful experience.


We are proud to have worked with the University of Winchester to design the Digital and Technology Solutions degree course - and are currently watching our first students complete their final year.

The change in them over four years has been significant - both to them on their personal learning journey and on their value to the business. And the success of the degree has been evidenced by the growing demand for degree apprentices from across the business. We value them as much as graduates - more in terms of the work experience they have gained by the time they graduate; and their contribution while studying is also significant.

It isn't a small undertaking for them or for the business - the business has to be prepared to release them for time at university and study time; the individuals have to be prepared to spend a lot of their personal time studying - but all realise the value of the opportunity they are being given and that it is worth the effort they are required to put in. To show the true value, read the quotes below from managers of some of our current degree apprentices. The evidence speaks for itself.

John Lockwood, Head of DevOps
We are lucky to have such a talented set of individuals, keen to learn and contribute. Their enthusiasm rubs off on those around them and, as a result, we see higher performing teams. It is therefore providing benefits beyond gaining talented individuals who are the bedrock of the future of our organisation. They are, within weeks of arrival, helping to drive better performances from existing staff.

I have one development team that is headed by a graduate in their second year, containing mainly apprentices plus a couple of new graduates, which is one of the highest performing agile development teams we have.

I am highly energised personally by the interactions I have with our apprentices, helping them to understand the 'why' we ask them to do 'what' they do. The inquisitive minds and challenges they bring to me certainly keeps me on my toes!

Mark Cone, Service Director
Degree apprentices are a fundamental part of our business growth strategy. The ability to work with apprentices over a four-year period, leading to a formal qualification gives us a pipeline of highly skilled, highly experienced, highly capable individuals who already know our business and customers and, unlike graduates straight from university, are able to operate to the full potential of their roles from day one.

During their apprenticeships, it is not just their academic learning which develops: we find that our apprentices develop strong work ethics, a high degree of initiative and the ability to think and act for themselves and have become fully integrated and respected members of their communities. Their enthusiasm is infectious and their presence in teams often stimulates higher levels of performance from the remainder of the teams they work in.

Join us to find out more

The University is hosting an information evening from 6pm-8pm on Wednesday 6 March for students interested in forging a career in digital technology and solutions or business management and leadership and their parents. There will be an opportunity to meet some of our partner employers - including Fujitsu - who are currently looking to recruit talented young people to their degree apprenticeships schemes. Click here for more information and to book your place.

Employers interested in finding out more about partnering with the University of Winchester to develop a degree apprenticeship programme should email:

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