Edwin’s journey – From college to a job and a degree with a Digital Degree Apprenticeship

After leaving college with A’ levels and an Art foundation course, Edwin decided to build his own computer which ignited his passion in IT hardware. With experience working as a project manager, he applied for a degree apprenticeship role at Orbis IT & Digital where he is currently learning new skills and studying for his degree with BPP University.

Hear from Edwin about his experience and the benefits of this new route into a tech career, combining work experience and an employer-accredited degree from the Tech Partnership.

Edwin Davies-Arai works as a Tech Partnership accredited Digital Degree Apprentice with Orbis IT & Digital, studying with BPP University. Edwin currently works in the ICT Schools & Traded Services at Brighton & Hove City Council.

(pictured above: Edwin imaging computers as part of an IT suite installation project at one of our customer schools)

What qualifications did you have when you left school?
Basic C grade GCSEs for English/maths/science etc

What did you do immediately after leaving school?
I continued studying at Varndean College.

Did you do A levels or another FE course?
I passed 3 A levels in Fine art, Digital Enhancement and English Language, then I passed an art foundation course.

How did you get interested in working in an IT/Digital environment?
I became interested in ICT after college and while working at my first job. To save money, I built my first desktop computer from scratch and became interested in working with PC hardware.

What jobs/careers did you have previously and what made you want to change?
I was a project manager in a company called Somnowell marketing, which provides internet marketing for Dentists. I was working in the accounting team.

Did your parents or siblings go to university and/or were you encouraged to go?
My mum studied sculpture at St Martin’s College, and my dad was educated in Japan. I wasn’t discouraged from going to university but my parents always supported my decision to start working straight out of college.

How did you first become aware of apprenticeship opportunities in IT & Digital at the Council?
I had a couple of friends who had done apprenticeships in various areas such as engineering and teaching. After leaving my first job, I decided to look into them as I still lived at home so had the chance to take some time finding something that I wanted to do. I found my first (Level 2) apprenticeship at the Council while looking for various IT related apprenticeships online. It was one of three I applied for, but my first choice.

What are the best bits of your current job, what sort of support do you get, and what do you think you’ve learnt or been able to achieve that you wouldn’t have if you’d gone straight to university?
The best part of this job is the variation between days as you work through the week; there is little repetition, which keeps me engaged with my work. The support from the team is great with lots of people who specialise in different areas who are always happy to explain things and help with areas I am less confident in. The best thing you gain out of a degree apprenticeship over a full-time university degree is work experience. In the current employment environment work experience is worth a lot.

What’s your experience of the Digital & Technology Degree apprenticeship so far?
The degree is a lot of work. Because you have coursework alongside a full-time job it takes up a lot of your time. However, you do get time within the working week for study, and this shouldn’t dissuade anyone as it’s a great opportunity. It provides you with the best of both worlds, work experience and qualifications.

What are your ultimate career interests/ambitions?
For now, my focus is working on my degree over the next four years. Within this time, I want to become a permanent technician within the council. In the long term I plan to continue working in IT while specialising in a specific area which I have not yet decided on.

What would you say to someone considering doing a Digital & Technology apprenticeship?
I think I would say the same as I would to anyone considering a degree in any field. It’s a great career path which you can take straight out of secondary school. A degree apprenticeship should be considered by everyone as an alternative to full time university – but everyone should go to college first. It’s free education, provides social development and sets you up well for both employment and further study.


See what digital apprenticeships could do for you – if you are an employer, or if you are looking at careers options.


The employer-led, not-for-profit organisation ‘Tech Partnership Degrees‘ is taking forward the Higher Education work of the Tech Partnership, which is closing in September 2018. This includes the industry-accredited Tech Industry Gold degrees – IT Management for Business (ITMB) and Software Engineering for Business (SEfB) – and the Tech Industry Gold degree apprenticeships.