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Management Apprenticeships: FAQs

13 April 2021

Management Apprenticeships represent a fantastic opportunity for structured and high quality training that is budget-friendly by being funded from either ringfenced funds (your apprenticeship Levy) or a 95% Government contribution (non-Levy payers).

Don’t let confusion around programme structure, training delivery or rules/requirements hold your organisation back from pursuing such a comprehensive programme of management and leadership development at a time when organisations need good and effective managers and leaders more than ever before.

Instead, you can read our detailed FAQ answers below, provided by our expert team of apprenticeship programme managers and dedicated tutor/coaches and, if you’d like to learn more or discuss your requirement, contact us on business@eliesha.com or by filling out an enquiry form here.

What are the management apprenticeships looking to develop in managers?

At both levels 3 and 5, the programme tutor/coaches are really looking for apprentices to be able to show up as the leader the organisation needs them to be, to be able to motivate and inspire other people, but to also engage stakeholders, to run appropriate projects, and to enable operational requirements to be met by the organisation.

How are the apprenticeship programmes structured to deliver this development?

The programmes, at levels 3 and 5, are divided into three steps.

Step one is ‘Personal Effectiveness’: this is somewhat inward-looking but actually provides a solid foundation for everything that comes after it. We look at modules of self-awareness, management of self (which includes CPD and time management) and problem solving/decision making. In step one we explore how to create leaders who are sufficiently self-aware that they can recognise their own strengths, weaknesses and preferences, and – crucially – recognise that other people might function differently from themselves. We receive a lot of feedback that personal effectiveness is an enlightening part of the programme, in that it is a profound opportunity for managers to recognise their impact on other people, and what that is driven by. A lot of apprentices find it empowering to learn, often for the first time, that if they change their own behaviour and they seek to understand other perspectives or preferences, then they can be much more impactful and influential in their work with others. Problem solving/decision making closes off step one by focusing on important and practical tools that managers can immediately put to the test.

Step two, ‘Organisational Performance’, is where the management core of the programme sits: we look at project management, finance and operational management. These parts of the programme are same at both levels 3 and 5 but the topics are approached differently. Project management is all about how to run projects effectively, how to marshal organisational resources and how systems are built around projects that allow them to be effective. Financial management is both setting but also monitoring budgets, and then operational management combines points around translating organisational strategy into performance, change management and management of data, etc.

Finally step three, ‘Interpersonal Excellence’, is predominantly about leadership. Here, apprentices learn about leading people, managing people, organisational culture, talent management, delegation and leadership styles. They then move on to building relationships with stakeholders, managing conflict, negotiation and influencing and communication is the final module, which also includes topics like chairing meetings as well as choosing the appropriate communication style, approach and method when communicating with others.

What are the overall aims and objectives of the programmes?

When designing the programmes, we set out to create some challenging but effective programmes that strengthen the knowledge and capabilities of managers.

We seek to deliver the contemporary skills that are required by the 21st century workplace, so apprentices will go into detail about things like managing change, negotiating and influencing with stakeholders, developing the talent around you, etc., as well as exploring self-awareness and understanding the importance of continued development as a professional leader. We are therefore developing professional behaviours and helping managers to modernise their mindset. Apprentices’ learning journey starts from self-awareness but recognises some of the external factors that will have an impact on their businesses and how organisational strategy can be delivered. Through that we are building occupational competence, capability and capacity.

A fundamental objective of both Level 3 Team Leader / Supervisor and Level 5 Operations / Departmental Manager programmes is building confidence and, during the programmes, we help managers step into their leadership role from a place of confidence. Rather than empty confidence or ego, this confidence is built to be grounded in knowledge and skills. This is helped by being given the opportunity to test how they were already working against good and best practice, and then reinforce where they were already doing well or develop new approaches where necessary. Confidence being supported by competence is crucial, because individuals will advocate for their decisions, stand up for their views, and be fully effective in influencing others.

Importantly, because any apprenticeship is a work-based qualification, there's an opportunity for apprentices to directly apply relative theory to real management situations and challenges. Throughout the programme they are asked to reflect on questions like “what have you done about this,” “what have you put into practice,” “how have you solved organisational issues through these tools.” This brings about vital embedding of new learning in day-to-day work. For example, managers are tasked with, improving certain aspects of their work or delivering a change project as part of their programme, so they are constantly working on delivering organisational improvements. Their apprenticeship will not be separate from their work, it will be closely linked to it and, as a natural consequence of someone completing their apprenticeship successfully, they will have made some positive difference to their workplace.

How long are the programmes?

Level 3 Team Leader / Supervisor programmes typically run for 18-24 months and Level 5 Operations / Departmental Manager programmes for 24-30 months.

These are lengthy pieces of work that do require commitment, but because they run for a significant period of time, they also feature, and allow for, real embedding of learning. It is not the case that apprentices ‘leave’ for a day-long workshop, then ‘return’, these are programmes of learning where managers will be able to take new ideas on board and put them into practice in a guided way. This includes their assessments, where they can take feedback on board and discuss them further, so bring about the opportunity for real and in-depth development.

The length of the programmes is designed to give learners the opportunity to engage with the learning, put it into practice, demonstrate what they have done with it and the move on to the next topic area.

What support do apprentices receive?

Learner support is a critical success factor in the programmes. Learners are at the heart of the programme and receive support from the outset, initially around their application decision (i.e. which level is appropriate and their current level of knowledge and learning). Once enrolled, learners receive assessment support, extensive feedback e.g. detailed comments on the submitted work so that they can continue to improve.

Programme, systems and administrative support can be expected from Eliesha (as the apprenticeship provider), and from the dedicated programme tutor/coach, but it's also crucial that apprentices receive the support of their organisation and their line manager. The support to put their new skills and knowledge into practice is a vital part of the programmes, so part of the management support must include regular opportunities for learners to be involved with things they might not normally do as part of their day job, in order to develop their skills. For example, where a learner isn’t currently a budget holder, we’ve had many successful examples of managers being given access to a budget to either shape or monitor, and report on for the purposes of developing that skill and confidence.

Apprentices will require line management engagement and support. but if your organisation has solid line management systems in place and if organisational managers take the development of colleagues seriously, then, in our experience, they are not particularly onerous. As part of the same one-to-one conversations, the same talent management or the same considerations around access to new projects or responsibilities, for example, the apprenticeship will blend in and, if that is already in place, organisations will see no particular difference in supporting the delivery of the apprenticeship and supporting the learner to do their existing job. All that is really asked of the apprentices’ line manager is supportive line management with regular consideration of someone's learning, but it is a crucial part of the programme that Eliesha takes steps to highlight and support from the outset of the programme.

What are the knowledge/skills tasks and assessments?

These are another important element of the programme structure. We use a flexible assessment framework with multiple types of assessment built into the programme that will help the apprentices demonstrate their new knowledge, but also demonstrate that they have been putting it into practice via skills and behaviours.

When apprentices are gathering workplace evidence, those are pieces of work they will complete as part of their normal role: looking to demonstrate that they have been putting the skills and behaviours into practice. These might be appraisals that they are holding with their colleagues, team briefings or even safety briefings. Particularly relevant are occasions where they talk to their colleagues about delivering strategic objectives, so if the apprentice held a presentation about the current strategic objectives and how that is that is translated into operational requirements for their own department, this would be a great example of the evidence that managers will be bringing into their portfolio to demonstrate that they have embodied the skills and behaviours.

Whilst this doesn’t go beyond what’s expected in day-to-day work, apprentices, with line manager support, will be occasionally stretching their role, e.g. into chairing meetings or project management. Knowledge is initially assessed in written pieces of work, but these progressively drop away and the focus moves on to work-based assessments.

It’s easy to see assessments as a ‘must do’ - something that's tacked on to the programme and must be completed in order to get the certificate, but, in our experience, learners quickly begin to see assessments as an opportunity of embedding their learning and really thinking about the topic rather than learning passively and expecting things to stick in the memory. Our apprenticeship programmes, and the employers we work with, want the learner to fully internalise new ideas, and assessments are a demonstrable method to ensure that they are engaging with it. Even when completing a written assessment, particularly in the first part of the programme, the programme tutor/coach is not simply assessing their work but also ensuring that they're truly understanding the learning.

Much of people management – particularly at the team leader / supervisor level - is explaining, showing and demonstrating, so we use assessments as a way of getting apprentices to explain their new learning to someone else and to articulate their ideas, which really helps that embedding of learning.

What is the 20% ‘off-the-job’ requirement and how do the programmes account for it?

In a very basic definition, this means that a full-time worker needs to be spending 20% of their time in what is described as ‘off-the-job’ time. To expand: training or, more importantly, learning must take place within the apprentices normal or contracted working hours and must total 20% of those hours.  

This brings about a requirement for programmes to efficiently combine:

  1. Off-the-job theory based leadership and management training 
  2. On-the-job application/demonstration of learning

And that these elements then add up to around 20% of time and effort at work.

This blend is designed to reinforce and embed learning and increase capability, confidence and competence. In alignment with the overall aims and objectives of our programmes, this is the opportunity to ensure apprentices are really using their learning in practice.

There are some important things to note about this requirement:

• When apprentices are in a workshop for the 15 days over the programme, they are considered off-the-job and, whether the workshop is virtual or face-to-face, they are ‘out of office’. They are also off-the-job when completing their pre-workshop tasks, engaging with online learning videos/quizzes, doing their self-assessment reflections, writing up their assessments, or collating their evidence. This broadly totals around half of the required ‘20%’ hours for most people.

• The other half happens at work, implementing their new skills and learning within the workplace, not being away from it. This means anything that apprentices are doing by way of embedding their learning, which might be linked to further training, testing or implementing something new, taking on additional responsibilities such as holding a team briefing that they don't normally do but is operationally required, stepping into a senior role to cover a team member, or completing anything extra-ordinary, e.g. activities linked to organisational changes or reopening around Covid-19. Over the past year many of our management apprentices have been briefing staff and creating new policies/procedures in the context of Covid-19, and it has been possible to include these activities within the 20% off-the-job hours, provided that apprentices are thinking and planning around how they use their new knowledge or skills to make it a success and then reflect on what worked well, and what might have made it ‘even better if…’. The most important thing is that new processes and practices are being treated as an activity that supports and develops the individual's learning.

The key message to reinforce about the 20% off-the-job requirement is that apprentices will not be ‘out of the office’ one day a week, or out of their normal workplace for one day a week. Instead, they will be ‘away from the office’ for 15 days of the programme length, they will need time out of their normal day to complete their coursework, timelogs and portfolios of evidence effectively, and the rest of the time they will be carrying out their existing role and their workload, but stretching and challenging themselves, learning about their leadership and management skills, and trying out new things.

To enquire about Eliesha's management apprenticeship programmes, email us now to set up an exploratory meeting about your requirement.

business@eliesha.com

We look forward to hearing from you soon.

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