Management Apprenticeships - The Challenges Facing Employers
The biggest take up of the levy so far has purportedly been for Management Apprenticeships – and why not? You can…
Invest in your current workforce
develop management and leadership capability
and potentially get it all funded
But before you dive headlong into lining your managers up for long-awaited investment in their skills and capabilities, there are a few things that you should think very carefully about – these are the things we have seen unhinge plans and complicate your commendable aspirations. Here we outline just a handful of the things you might want to bear in mind:
1) 20% Off-the-Job Training
Let’s get this one out of the way right up front. Apprentices must spend at least 20% of their time on off- the-job training (OJT); don’t be tempted to think you can ignore this! There are lots of rules and guidance around what can and can’t be included, but you will have to take proper account of it. (OJT is defined as learning which is undertaken outside of the normal day-to-day working environment and leads towards the achievement of an apprenticeship. 20% is measured across the whole apprenticeship.)
Of course the government and tax payers aren’t going to want their cash spent on people who already have the skills an apprenticeship is designed to deliver. Apprenticeships are fundamentally about developing new skills, knowledge, behaviour – and demonstrating this improvement/progress. If some of your team already have qualifications that cover some or all of the content of the Standard you are considering, then it is unlikely they will be eligible for funding for a full apprenticeship programme.
3) Functional skills
Yes, everyone completing an apprenticeship must evidence that they have an appropriate level of Functional Skills (typically Maths and English). Many of your target audience for management apprenticeships may not have evidence of their qualifications and even if they did, it may still be appropriate to check their levels of Maths and English today, to see if it could do with a bit of a brush up. This can come as a shock to your employees who were not expecting to have their Maths and English ability called into question and who may not have sat an assessment of this kind for many years. Deal with this carefully or your participants might be put off and disengaged right from the get go.
Most of the ‘rules’ surrounding apprenticeships were created with a young and potentially vulnerable audience in mind and safeguarding in particular ensures employers are attentive to any potential safety and welfare needs and issues. This may not immediately seem relevant to a more mature and experienced audience, but actually when you reflect on it, it makes sense to develop a culture that is vigilant to the needs of all employees. Considering the safeguarding and welfare needs of everyone is a good thing, but introducing it in a clumsy way that suggests ‘we’re doing this because we have to if we want the funding’ undermines the apprenticeship and speaks volumes about your values as an employer.
5) End Point Assessment (EPA)
The idea of EPA can provoke anxiety for lots of people. The very idea of being in a situation where they are expected to discuss their learning and have it ‘scored’ can bring people out in a cold sweat. This needs to be countered early on by being clear up front about what EPA is and how you will prepare them for it. Your job is to help them see it as the start of their celebration of completing their apprenticeship!
6) Absence and Dropouts
All Apprenticeship programmes will experience some incompletions as people leave the programme for a variety of reasons. With Management Apprenticeships there is the additional pressure of the responsibilities of their ‘day job’. Managers in the business, will by their very nature have operational and functional responsibilities that may have to take priority at points during their programme. In order to minimise the number of managers who pull out of the programme due to work pressures, expectations need to be very clear from the start with agreement with Line Managers on how these pressures will be handled alongside the programme. If there is any doubt about the practicalities of this for an individual, maybe an Apprenticeship isn’t the right route for them!
7) Line Manager Engagement
I’ll leave you with one final thought. If there’s one thing that can really influence the success or failure of your apprenticeships, it is whether you have taken the time to engage with the Line Managers of the learners to help them understand what’s involved, their level of commitment, how they can support, and why it will pay dividends in the long run. Make their job easy and enjoyable by providing simple resources that help them hold quality conversations with their apprentices and make sure they feel appreciated for managing the workload in the team so that the learners don’t feel like they’re letting the side down.
These are our observations from helping a range of businesses introduce management apprenticeships into their L&D portfolio. If we can help you understand the new apprenticeship landscape and how you can optimise funding for these types of apprenticeships you can contact here