Richard Huish College Student, Joseph Hughes, will be avoiding the expense of higher education after receiving an offer from Continental to sponsor his degree at the University of Chichester.

Continental, well known for tyre manufacture, are designing the innovative technology of future automobiles. Autonomous self-drive vehicles that absorb their own legal responsibility are now being developed amongst the company’s ambitions.

Hughes will be joining a brand new facility in Burgess Hill from September, studying one day a week at university and working at the company four days a week and during his reading weeks. He can achieve a Level 6 qualification, within four years, gaining experience in his chosen field without acquiring student debt.

There is a growing move towards sponsored degrees where employers who see a gap in the market will fund a university to create the curriculum needed for their marketplace. Although there is no obligation to remain with his sponsor beyond his degree, Continental have guaranteed upon satisfactory competence, a minimum £30k position will be available to their qualified graduate. Companies take a vested interest in providing further development for the employees they have invested in and shaped for their business.

To achieve this highly selective position, Hughes has had to work hard, as well as being predicted top grades in his BTEC Extended Diploma in Digital Technologies, Hughes has taken Core Maths and an EPQ at Huish, whilst working part time for Subway. Travelling to Bognor Regis, he took part in a competitive interview process with nine other applicants, undertaking a group interview, group task and solo interview. The successful candidate pool featured young adults with a varied range of qualifications all competing for just one or two sponsored positions.

Hughes was one of the few not from a Computing or A Level background and fought to ensure this gave him a competitive edge. He shared; “With the BTEC, you need to be able to demonstrate the skills you have and not give into the stigma because it can get you further, I’ve come out on top.” He explained rather than drawing on one example of his work he often had to draw upon several examples in his interview to utilise the benefit of having studied many IT units rather than one core project or element like his Computing competitors. “The positive thing about the Digital Technologies BTEC is it can demonstrate practical skills like project management.”

It was tutor Andy Harding who first recommended pursuing a higher level apprenticeship to Hughes after he joked he wanted to go to university but not pay. After pursuing opportunities listed on the government apprenticeship website he has since received multiple offers, including offers from employers Outreach and Santander, it was Continental however who offered the highest level degree, best progression and long term stability. Before concluding on his final decision, Hughes consulted Huish Careers service who helped him explain to his parents the aspects of each offer.

Looking beyond and into the future, Hughes is considering studying for a Certificate of Engineering one day, a progression route he discussed at another opportunity he explored but that could be attainable even sooner by completing his Level 6 qualification with Continental. “If you asked me four months ago I would have had no idea about what I wanted to do” Joseph commented, “I’m excited to see where this job goes as I’m interested in cars and will get to work with them every day.”

Richard Huish College delivers a number of higher level apprenticeships, for more information contact apprenticeship@richuish.ac.uk. For careers advice please contact richardj@richuish.ac.uk.