Dave, 22 and Spencer, 21, are Degree Software Engineering apprentices at Zircon in

Trowbridge, Wiltshire. Both had different experiences of University but found an

apprenticeship suited their career path better.

Dave told us his story:

“I completed a Robotics degree at University but when I was job hunting afterwards I

found a lot of entry level roles were looking for more experience than I had, the job

market was very competitive and I found myself re-assessing my options. I

feel the value of degrees has reduced, I have personal experience of three older

brothers going to University, my oldest brother got a job much more easily – a degree

was enough but now employers want to see your experience as well. I saw this

apprenticeship online and felt I was actually applying for a job not just a course. An

apprenticeship appealed to me because it is a flexible option, allowing for learning

but also getting lots of experience on various projects and therefore allowing me to

specialise in the future. I would advise others to give the degree apprenticeship a

chance as there is no debt, but to pick your employer/course carefully, don’t settle for


Spencer had a slightly different experience of University and chose an apprenticeship too:

“I left my University course as I found the course wasn’t for me, I wasn’t aware of

apprenticeships when I was making my decisions as the school didn’t push them. My

career plans are to become a software developer and this course suits me great, it’s a

nice mix and I can keep learning which this apprenticeship will offer, much of the content

would not have been covered at University. I feel there is good flexibility in the

apprenticeship module choices. My advice to others would be around

A-Level time, look for yourself, do the research as there is more to it.”

David Owen, MD, spoke of his experiences so far:

“The company has a very informal and open culture which seems to appeal to the

apprentices, but we are able to offer them lots of variety in their job roles too.

We held an open day with around 7 applicants, carried out assessments and team

building activities. We actually only had 2 positions but couldn’t decide so took

on 3 apprentices! We now have a long term recruitment plan based around

apprentices. I think a new generation is emerging, the ‘University only’ route is

fading and for the younger generation apprenticeships will become the way


Higher Futures were a part of Zircon’s journey. Jo Mills, Employer and HEI Skills

Broker from Higher Futures met David at JobFest in February of 2017. David

specified that Zircon were looking to attract and grow talent within the Computer

Science area. Higher Futures provided some initial information around apprenticeships

and introduced him to the relevant training provider who specialise in Software

Development and Technology apprenticeships.