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Apprenticeship Levy…and what it can do for you

On 18th December 2018 CEO Today Published a report by Robert Sharrock, CEO, YSC Consulting, listing leadership trends to watch in 2019….

On 18th December 2018 CEO Today Published a report by Robert Sharrock, CEO, YSC Consulting, listing leadership trends to watch in 2019.  These included:

  1. Replacing ineffective unconscious bias training with a focus on conscious inclusion
  2. Treating leadership preparedness like disaster preparedness
  3. Throwing the boomerang: investing in departing high-potentials
  4. Moving from being an authentic leader to cultivating authenticity in others
  5. Planning for succession all the time, year-round – especially for the CEO

Significant changes have been made to the way the government supports companies with a desire to thrive and grow over the last couple of years, which means that considerably more can now be done to respond to these trends and reform the way our businesses are run.

In my role as a consultant and ambassador for the University of Salford, I visit a diverse range of organisations each week. I meet up with heads of Learning and Development functions that focus on identifying, supporting and driving the trends reported by Robert Sharrock through their organisations.  As you can imagine, this activity often uncovers resistance from unexpected corners of the business. The following article shares some of my findings.

But first, what part do the Government play for organisations looking to embrace these trends and meet the challenges of managing them head on?

How the Apprenticeship Scheme and Apprenticeship Levy is Influencing Trends and Change

The Apprenticeship Scheme was introduced back in 2002.  However, the number of entry level apprenticeships recorded fell by 30% according to Department for Education (DfE) figures taken from August-October 2017 new starter records.  Despite this drop, DfE reports that, 2016-17, 277,800 people completed an apprenticeship in England – the highest number since comparable records began in 2002. 

Of the feedback I received during the earlier days of entry level apprenticeships, one of the biggest issues for companies willing to take on a young apprentice, was the lack of work-based commitment shown by the apprentice.  It’s not surprising the frustration felt by these employers, tying up valuable and often limited resource on dis-engaged apprentices at a time when many of these businesses were still emerging from the effects of the recession.  Encouragingly, latest figures demonstrate how this situation has improved. 

As the apprenticeship scheme has become firmly embedded into recruitment and professional development strategies, levels of investment, innovation and engagement across all stakeholders have grown dramatically.  The rise in completed apprenticeships goes some way to demonstrate the shift in mindset towards today’s expectation of on-going learning and development as an integral part of any employment package.

Working with a Higher Skill Set

Introducing a more structured approach to work-place learning and development through the Apprenticeship Scheme, coupled with an increasing number of apprenticeships completed, has resulted in a rise of the following attributes from entry level and aspiring employees:

  • Capability
  • Innovative thinking
  • Changed behaviour

A greater percentage of organisational innovation and change is now being instigated by these members of the company.

Due to the inevitable skills gaps of less supported, established senior managers and executives, this enthusiasm for change often hits a wall of resistance once they become involved in the process.  The Apprenticeship Levy was introduced in 2017 to help address this challenge and respond to the shift in demand for skills development at a senior level. It also provides the opportunity for employees already on a learning pathway to continue their development at a higher level of skill and experience. 

  • DfE statistics confirm that ‘more apprentices are starting advanced or higher-level programmes in England.
  • Completing an advanced apprenticeship is equivalent to two A-level passes.
  • Higher apprentices can work towards qualifications such as a foundation degree or the equivalent of a bachelor’s degree – without paying tuition fees.
  • In 2016-17, 53% of apprenticeship starts were at intermediate level, 40% at advanced level and the remaining 7% at higher level.
  • The proportion of higher and advanced level apprenticeships has climbed steadily from 37% in 2011-12 to 47% in the last academic year.’ Source: Department for Education. 

As recognition and understanding of the wider value of the Apprenticeship Levy builds, more organisations have moved away from viewing it as a ‘stealth tax’ and are using it pro-actively to meet the following leadership and development requirements:

  • Change embedded management culture.
  • Provide a structured programme of staff development.
  • Attract the right talent.
  • Improve staff retention and reduce attrition.
  • Improve operational capability and resilience.
  • Grow next generation of company leaders.
  • Succession Planning.
  • Collaboration and inclusion.
  • Strategic thinking.
  • Transformation and change.

Using the Apprenticeship Levy to Meet Requirements

The Apprenticeship Levy supports business to meet these requirements head-on.  Internationally renowned Undergraduate and Postgraduate Degrees, such as MBA Masters in Business Administration; MSc Leadership and Management; Chartered Manager and Associate Project Manager, are fully funded through the Levy, building knowledge, experience and operational excellence in the following areas:

  • Organisational Performance, Behaviour and Change
  • Project Management
  • Economics, Financial Management and Statistics
  • HR Management
  • Operational Management
  • Strategic Leadership
  • Business Ethics and Sustainability
  • Marketing
  • Digital and Data Skills and Analysis
  • Business Law
  • Logistics, Distribution and Supply Chain Management
  • Research and Analysis
  • International Business and Strategic Management
  • Resourcing for High Performance
  • Live Business Projects

For more information on the Apprenticeship Levy or work-based Undergraduate and Postgraduate Degrees covered by the levy, visit our website or email Jane Ford.

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