NAW2021: ‘Apprenticeships have opened us up to more talent and upskilling opportunities’


Date: 12th Feb 2021

Apprentices can bring new energy and passion into a business - they are a great option for people at any stage of their career from those starting out, those re-entering the workforce, or those wanting to upskill or change career.

But this alternative way of learning isn’t just beneficial for individuals but also for businesses. The introduction of the Government’s apprenticeship levy in April 2017 meant that more businesses used the opportunity to expand and upskill their workforces.

Bucks New University has enrolled 29 members of staff on apprenticeship programmes, including Senior Lecturers to Professors, Business Administrators to Departmental Managers as well as student and customer facing roles in Academic Registry, Digital & Technical Services, Estates and Missenden Abbey.

We spoke to Christine Boucher, Learning and Development Business Partner, about how the University not only delivers apprenticeships for other employers but also takes advantage of the levy scheme itself.Christine Boucher

Hi Christine. We are celebrating National Apprenticeship Week, so can you tell us why Bucks decided to use its levy and create its own home-grown apprentices?

The University is in a unique position in that it operates in all aspects of the levy; a levy paying employer, a provider and employer-provider. The levy has provided an ideal opportunity to recruit, develop and retain new talent as well as develop existing staff wanting to take-up new skills and qualifications.

What have been the benefits to the University and learners?

The University has been able to access the levy given over to HMRC to supplement our development budgets and access a broader range of refreshed, employer-led apprenticeship programmes. We have been able to recruit talented individuals who can then hopefully secure permanent roles in the business alongside upskilling our existing staff, reducing staff recruitment costs long term and demonstrate our commitment to invest in our employees.
In terms of individuals, they have been gaining the skills, knowledge and behaviours required for their specific role along with a recognised qualification. Also, unlike traditional HE routes, they are earning as they are learning.

So as an employee at Bucks, what apprenticeships are on offer?

As an employer-provider, we were one of the first to offer the Academic Professional
Apprenticeship and we have also had colleagues enrolled on the Senior Leader Master’s Degree Apprenticeship as well as the Associate Project Manager.
As an employer, we have colleagues on Level 5 Leadership and Management, Customer Service, Business Administration, Plumbing, with others on IT & Hospitality programmes for Missenden Abbey in the past. We are always looking at ways to extend the
opportunities available.

Have you been getting good feedback about this route of employee development?

Yes, many colleagues give positive feedback on their learning experience and the opportunity to network with each other and delegates from other institutions. Their feedback helps us develop the programmes further including managing the 20% off-the-job requirement so we can enable more colleagues to access apprenticeships as part of their Continuing Professional Development.

What would you say to other employers who are considering using apprenticeships for the personal development of their employees?

Apprenticeships are a great way to develop new skills, knowledge and behaviours relevant to your staff roles. It can also align to your business’s values and strategy. Using the levy can help ensure you have the right people, in the right place, at the right time; all the while helping the employee develop personally too.

I think our colleagues who have taken part sum it up best, but if you are interested in finding out more about how apprenticeships could help your business, please email

If you are an employer who would like to explore what Bucks New University and higher or degree apprenticeships can do for you and your workforce visit

Anika Tasseva, Senior Registry Administrator, studied Associate Project Manager:Anika Tasseva

“My experience on the Associate Project Management Apprenticeship has been exactly what I was looking for at this stage in my career. I found it challenging to dive into a completely different field of work than what I’ve done before, but it was worth it, as all the skills I gained can be applied to my future field of work.

“I proved to myself that studying shouldn’t be necessarily entirely academic but could go hand in hand with work. This format appealed to me from the start as I learn better through doing things, and what better way to do that.

The support from my mentor on the programme was priceless and I felt the University encouraged learners to really fulfil their potential. I can see how the way an apprenticeship can be forward for young aspiring professionals when a conventional degree is not an option."

Rommel Foster, Maintenance Engineer, studied Plumbing & Heating:Rommel Foster

“I was proud to be granted the opportunity to part take on the apprenticeship program. I took up an apprenticeship as a plumbing and heating engineer… a course that I wanted to pursue for a very long time and thanks to Buckinghamshire New University I had the opportunity to do so.

“Doing this course gave me the skills set needed to undertake jobs in, and around and University Campuses and Halls to repair, maintain and to make Students, Staffs experience better. This course I studied one day a week at college and the rest was on the job training on separate sites at Bucks and monitored by our lead plumbing and heating engineer.

“College life is great fun, it’s not just class or workshop every time you attend, we also go off on field trips, and plumbing Exhibitions in places like Alexandra Palace and Chelsea to help the course be more informative and enjoyable.

“So, if you are thinking of taking up an apprenticeship within Buckinghamshire New University feel free to sign up. It’s a great opportunity for you to change your career path, and to improve your skills set, it has done me a great deal of good it could be the same for you."

Suze Ward, Missenden Abbey Commercial Sales Manager, studied Senior Leader:Suze Ward

“The Senior leader programme has helped me hugely in my professional development.  As an apprentice programme it has helped me to grow in confidence in myself as well as my professional life and I have found that I have been able to implement the learning aspects into my day-to-day work.

“Learning in both an academic way but also learning from my peers on the course has been hugely valuable to me and I would highly recommend the course to anyone looking to take that next step in their career. “

Jonathan DevineJonathan Devine, Senior Lecturer in School of Nursing and Allied Health, studied Academic Professional:

“I thoroughly enjoyed my two years on the Academic Professional Apprenticeship: a programme that really does cover everything from designing and planning learning to quality assurance

“For anyone thinking about, or that has been offered the opportunity to undertake the APA; I would say go for it.  My experience on the programme was indeed challenging at times, however overall, it was fantastic, and vastly improved my teaching practice, ultimately enchaining the student experience.  For me, I finished with an Academic Professional Apprenticeship (Distinction), Post Graduate Certificate in Academic Practice and Fellowship with the Higher Education Academy.”