A different approach

February 3, 2020

Businesses and organisations are investing in higher and degree apprenticeship programmes to build talented leadership and management teams of the future. Dr Brenda Stalker, from Northumbria University, explains why and how the university can help

Higher and degree apprenticeships are a key strand in the Government’s skills strategy to increase UK productivity in the modern knowledge economy. We need to invest in leadership and management talent to harness these skills’ gains, particularly in areas such as digital, advanced manufacturing and infrastructure, and across our public services.

The new apprenticeships are an innovative approach to learning, combining university study with practical application in the workplace, allowing apprentices to gain new skills, new knowledge and new thinking – and, of course, a valuable qualification. There are apprenticeships for every stage of an individual’s career to support new talent or enable existing staff to build upon their work experience or transition to new roles. Delivered well, they offer significant professional development opportunities and a positive investment for employer and employee.

In 2015 Northumbria became one of the first universities in the UK to offer degree apprenticeships. So, when the Government introduced the Apprenticeship Levy in April 2017, we were well placed to help businesses of all sizes understand their levy status.

Our approach is to establish a collaboration between the university, the employer and the apprentice. This is reflected in the way the apprenticeship programmes are designed and delivered. The apprentice generally has 20 per cent of their time off-the-job training – but we aim to contextualise and develop their learning based at their workplace too.

There is a weight of evidence and research identifying the challenges organisation’s face around productivity. Many leaders and managers are excellent in their specific roles, but they are often promoted without adequate training and they can therefore lack the confidence and competence to succeed. The Chartered Management Institute estimate that four out of five managers are ‘Accidental Manager’s – those managers promoted without any coaching, training or support from their employer.

Our experience working with partners across a range of higher and degree programmes has given us valuable insight, including how to tailor bespoke courses. We have, for example, been working in partnership with Gateshead-based Vertu Motors since 2017. One of the first in their sector to offer degree apprenticeships, they are creating what their chief executive Robert Forrester has described as “an amazing opportunity for those enthusiastic about forging a career in the motor industry.”

We have also developed a pathway for leaders and managers at each stage of their career. Our Chartered manager programme is ideal for bringing in new talent, and for proven team leaders with an excellent track record but no qualifications to support them. We also have a portfolio and programmes for senior leaders – those with substantive roles leading teams, projects and organisations, or those identified by their organisations as aspiring to those senior roles.

I am proud of the positive difference we are making. Working collaboratively, we are seeing our partners close skills gaps, drive productivity, recruit and retain motivated and loyal staff.

Investing in a good degree apprenticeship scheme can help transform the workforce by harnessing your leadership talent and building social capital for the future.

Effective succession planning is crucial for any organisation and we can help.

Northumbria University
For more information on Northumbria University’s higher and degree apprenticeship programmes, visit: www.northumbria.ac.uk/business

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