Former pupil’s talk on Jaguar Land Rover apprecticeship
May 11, 2022

Former Rydal Penrhos pupil Ollie Sharples gave a presentation to Sixth Formers about degree apprenticeships as an alternative route to university.

Rydal Penrhos has a proud tradition of nurturing outstanding engineers. Ollie Sharples, who attended the school from 2011-13, is a Project Engineer at Jaguar Land Rover and he kindly shared some of his technical wisdom with our current crop of budding minds.

Ollie gave up his time to provide Sixth Form pupils with some very useful information regarding his experience within the prestigious degree apprenticeship, which was a different avenue into successful employment than simply attaining the necessary qualifications within higher education establishments across the country.

Among those who attended the presentation was Year 12 pupil Ethan Bytheway, who provided an account of Ollie’s talk for the recent addition of the Rydal Penrhos Society Newsletter.

I recently attended one of Oliver Sharples’ talks on degree apprenticeships as an alternative route to university. This was specifically tailored to engineering and closely tied to his own experience.

Ollie is a former Rydal Penrhos pupil, who studied Maths, Physics and Geography at A-Level. He initially wanted to follow the typical university route but eventually decided to go into one of the relatively new degree apprenticeship courses, training with Jaguar Land Rover (JLR).

Instead of the typical £9,000 fees and concurrent student debt, this course gave him a good salary, a large and varied amount of work experience, and access to all of its associated university facilities (from the University of Warwick). At JLR, Ollie had access to facilities beyond the reach of an ordinary student.

These included tear down stations, a design studio, a test track and an acoustic testing facility. Alongside all this JLR arranged facilities overseas to test products in hot, cold or extreme climates (for example, the sand dunes of Dubai).

For Ollie (and for most degree apprenticeships) the course is roughly structured in three parts. In Years 1 and 2, you follow a normal university schedule and work during holidays. In Years 3 and 4 the workload increases before the focus move predominantly towards work for Years 5 and 6, with much less time devoted to study.

One of the main differences between the apprenticeship route and university, Ollie mentioned, is that you are paid to be at work and paid to complete assignments.

This principle closely ties the course to a work environment, perfect for preparing you for your eventual full-time job, which is guaranteed after the apprenticeship is over (provided all necessary work is completed). With attendance checked and assignments keenly marked, there is a real drive for the individual to achieve.

When Ollie was asked if he would pursue a degree apprenticeship again, he said ’absolutely, it’s the best way to go’. With the opportunity to earn a salary, gain work experience and pursue university opportunities, what’s not to like?

Ethan Bytheway.

Rydal Penrhos would like to thank Ollie for taking the time to talk to our pupils. We look forward to the next steps in his Sixth Form success story.


Anyone wishing to enquire about Rydal Penrhos School can do so by calling 01492 530155, emailing admissions@rydalpenrhos.com or registering your interest online.

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