The group of nine students were part of the first degree apprenticeship programme offered by Sheffield Hallam University in partnership with Nestlé.
The chartered manager degree apprenticeship is one of the first such partnerships with the University's Business School, working with Nestlé to place the students in a paid role while they studied for their degree.
They graduated at a ceremony at Sheffield City Hall, with five of the students achieving a first-class degree.
The group will complete the end point assessment for the chartered manager degree apprenticeship in February and will be amongst the first in the country to do so.
They will continue in their permanent roles at Nestlé and will become a professional member of the Chartered Management Institute.
The apprentices rotated around four of the core Nestle business functions - sales, marketing, supply chain and HR – over two years, before specialising in one of those functions in their third year.
At the same time they studied for a fully funded business degree at Sheffield Hallam University, undertaking real projects from their work into the university environment.
The University's five-year collaboration with Nestlé to develop this bespoke degree apprenticeship is part of Nestlé’s UK commitment to Nestlé’s Global Youth Initiative, supporting young people around the globe as they enter the world of work.
Jo Daley, corporate partnerships leader at Sheffield Business School, said: "I’m delighted to be part of this unique programme and am immensely proud of all the students' achievements.
"To have obtained such outstanding results whilst also working full time is a testament to their commitment and sheer hard work and I’m sure they will all go on to achieve great things."
Dame Fiona Kendrick, chairman of Nestlé UK & Ireland, said: “Degree apprenticeships offer a real alternative. With more and more businesses investing in designing new programmes and with a growing number of school leavers who want a degree but who are looking for alternatives to the traditional full-time university route, I can only see appeal and popularity of degree apprenticeships continuing to increase. I congratulate the nine pioneers of the degree apprenticeship and I wish them a long and fruitful career.”
The scheme stands apart from other management training schemes. Sheffield Hallam, Nestlé and the chartered management institute worked together to co-design the bespoke curriculum to develop managers with the specific skills required by Nestle for its business. Nestle is now building on the successful model with an Operations Degree Apprenticeship, to develop future operational managers in its factories. The first group started in September.
Higher and degree apprenticeships at Hallam began in September 2015 after the University successfully bid for funding over 240 higher apprentices from the Skills Funding Agency, the highest allocation for any university.