NAW2024: 1st class degree!


Apprenticeships are open to people of all ages who want to develop their skills and boost their career prospects.

All throughout this National Apprenticeship Week, we’re highlighting the opportunities that are available to Advance colleagues and bringing you stories from people who have been there and done it.

Today, we hear from Karl, who has been working for Advance for six and a half years. Karl recently gained a first class honours degree in Building Surveying through taking up an apprenticeship.

We asked him about his experience...

Q. Karl, congratulations on your brilliant achievement! What made you consider taking up an apprenticeship?

Karl. It was through discussions with my manager.  In my APR’s, we talked about my future training and what I wanted to achieve.  I was encouraged to look at a degree and, over the course of 6 months, I had identified the BSc in Building Surveying course and started to put together a business case for how I could undertake it.  Originally, I looked at the full-time course but then found that taking it as an apprenticeship would mean that all my fees would be covered by the apprenticeship levy. 

Q. What did the apprenticeship involve?

Karl. I undertook the BSc in Building Surveying.  That’s usually a five- year degree, but because I already held a HNC in construction (level4) I was able to skip two years and only had to complete the final 3 years.

The course was day release, with some block release periods.  A typical Uni day would normally consist of four lectures covering two units. For example, one lecture in the morning for Construction Law and Contracts and another lecture in the morning for Construction Technology, then this would repeat for the afternoon.  The lectures would range from one to two hours depending on the content. Each unit had 10 lectures and at the end you would need to submit an assignment that met the brief.  Some units required an exam, for example the Construction Law and Contracts and Building Pathology required you to pass the exams to complete the unit.

Q. Tell us about your role at Advance.

Karl. I am responsible for managing the delivery of routine maintenance, responsive and void repairs, and minor works projects.  I also manage the delivery of major works – either on a reactive basis or cyclical programs. This extends to all rented properties including owned and leased, and our shared ownership schemes.

Q. That sounds like a pretty busy role. How did you find time to do an apprenticeship?!

Karl. I won’t lie, this course was hard and very difficult to manage around work and family.  I have three children (age 10, 12, 14) who all have very active lives - from dance lessons to boxing.  They all require support from me and my wife, and at times it could be really difficult to balance everything.  For example, if a lecture ran into the evening and I wasn’t available for pick-ups and drop-offs.  My wife has a busy job too as a Social Worker, and she was also undertaking an apprenticeship to help further her career.  So we often had to rely on family to help. Also, although I was allowed a day each week for lectures, the demands of work didn’t stop and I had to get used to condensing my work into the four days I was in.

Q. Was it worth all the hard work?

Karl. All the way through the course I felt that I wouldn’t care as long as I passed and I couldn’t wait until the end.  However, when I actually finished it was overwhelming. Attending university had become a part of my life for three years. I had gained many more friends and expanded my professional network.  So, when it was completed, I felt happy but also sad that this chapter in my life was over. As the weeks have gone on, I have been able to take a step back and realise what I have achieved and feel proud of it.

Q. And how do you feel now you’ve got your results?

Karl.  I often say I am not very academic.  I left school with no GCSE’s:  not because I didn’t try, more that I did my best, but it wasn’t good enough at the time. As I got older, everything I’d learned at school seem to click.  I pushed myself and re-sat some subjects to obtain my plumbing and gas qualifications to then progress to a HNC.  And now, finally, to achieve my degree. I think I am living proof that it is possible: it is possible to dream and then achieve such high levels of learning if you put the work in … and have a great family, and team to support you!

Q. What would you say to anyone else thinking about taking up an apprenticeship?

Karl. I would highly recommend undertaking an apprenticeship with Advance, either for personal achievement or for professional advancement.

Find out more about apprenticeships on the Government website, here.

Click on the links in this leaflet to join free information webinars on a range of apprenticeships.