Degree Apprenticeship Programme: Access to Success

Degree Apprenticeship Programme: Access to Success

We were delighted to welcome parent Amanda McIntosh to kick off the new Access to Success degree apprenticeship programme. Currently working for Shell, Amanda is an Oil and Gas Engineer who is heavily involved in graduate recruitment and mentoring young professionals and she kicked off the first of her sessions looking at the very start of the degree apprenticeship application process, the importance of researching the companies you are applying to. Finding out what the company really does, its ethos and aims and ethical backbone should be a natural part of your research and form a huge part of your ultimate decision about whether this is a company you want to work for.

Amanda talked about the need to use certain words and phrases common to that company’s website, as many application forms are computer scanned for specific phrases as a first phase, as well as the need for you to understand that a dull un-researched application will never get past the hiring team. Tailoring the answers to recruitment questions is vital and it is no longer to use the same answer for similar questions – you must ensure that your knowledge of the company, the role and the person specification are clear. Research is not only important for the actual written application, it also supports you right through interview and group assessment days too.

She also talked about how candidates applying should learn how to “stalk” the company and the people that might be interviewing them, using platform such as LinkedIn, or even the school’s Caterham Connected platform, as this allows you to find out more about the person who will be on your interview panel and how you can use this to your advantage. She also explained that when so many companies engage on social media to offer advice on the recruitment process, it is difficult to justify not understanding their processes and what you might be up against. Below are some of the top tips for beginning company research and where to go to find this information.

What to research?

For each application tailor it to the company and apprenticeship you are applying, consider the following:

Ø What is the company missions, values and goals?

Ø Where are their offices in the UK and around the world?

Ø Recent news articles/innovations/awards/ statistics (diversity/equal opp/gender pay gap)

Ø Research the content of the apprenticeship

Ø  How is it structured?

Ø  How many are there?

Ø  How many hours will you be expected to work

Ø  What is the length of your apprenticeship

Ø  What are your responsibilities and legal commitments

Ø  How do they coach and mentor you will you have a buddy/talent coach?

Ø  What sort of internal networks are there to build your capabilities?

Ø Show you have researched the apprenticeship, do some reviews, see the government review of the 100 best apprenticeships where do they sit?

Ø What knowledge, skills and behaviours do they expect, why is this important?

Where to research?

Ø Must read: Student apprenticeship guide Apprenticeships – Caterham School (

Ø Vacancy snapshot (60+ employer profiles detailing the apprenticeship schemes, fact files on each employer) https://

Ø Government Apprenticeship website Find an apprenticeship – GOV.UK (

Ø National Apprenticeship Service

Ø Company websites

Ø Fire it up Apprenticeships

Ø Career fairs/events/ University open days (page 40 Student Apprenticeship guide)

Ø Recent public announcements in newspapers/social media particularly LinkedIn

Ø  Consider making your own LinkedIn account – great platform for stalking

Ø Do you know anyone working in the company, do your parents?

Ø Do you know anyone who was successful in a previous apprenticeship or does Mrs Brown?


Pupils in attendance were then set some homework in preparation for next week’s session! They had to find one apprenticeship programme that they were interested in and bring in a sample of the application form and their CV so we can work how to practice getting the answers just perfect using the STARR technique (situation, task, action, result and review).

A huge thank you to Amanda for being such an integral part of this new programme and for giving up so much of your time to support our Sixth Form in this way. We have some super exciting sessions coming up and I can’t wait to share more with you. Mrs Clare Brown, Head of Careers.

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