Why our employers use Apprenticeships for Leadership Development, in their own words

To celebrate National Apprenticeship Week 2024 and its annual mantra – apprenticeships for all – we want to help our HR/OD/L&D audience better understand an exciting opportunity: using the system to upskill and develop existing managers and leaders, receiving substantial return on investment for Levy funds in the process.

The second day of National Apprenticeship Week 2024 celebrates employers!

And who better to speak about what’s involved than the HR/OD/L&D professionals who support the managers and leaders we are training and developing via the Level 3 (Team Leader/Supervisor) and Level 5 (Operations/Departmental Manager) apprenticeship standards?

These individuals take on a pivotal role from the employer side, one which is absolutely essential to the success of apprenticeships as a long-term programme of learning. They are also perfectly positioned to witness the changes in behaviour and confidence that an apprenticeship can bring about.

To get the ball rolling, we asked why they initially decided to explore apprenticeships as a management and leadership development solution…

Eliesha: What drove the interest in using apprenticeships as a management and leadership development pathway?

“Upskilling current managers to be better at managing people”

– Tracey, L&D Business Partner, Changing Lives:

“The holistic approach to the bedding of knowledge via practical application of skills in the workplace, with ongoing feedback and support from mentors and tutors. Plus the availability of levy funded to support a sustained programme of learning.”

– Ann, Funded Learning Lead, Yorkshire Water:

“We really like the structure the framework gives us and how it enables practical application in the workplace. The inclusion of the ILM qualification also adds credibility around our leadership and management performance.”

– Jane, Senior OD Manager, Bede Gaming

E: What’s the most common piece of feedback you receive from apprentices?

J: “It has increased their self-awareness, especially in how they come across and their own behaviour – that is something they have all pointed out”

E: And what’s the most common feedback you get from apprentices’ line managers?

J: Much better prioritisation of workload, finishing things before starting the next thing, looking at the bigger picture, rather than focusing on the low-level stuff, an increase in confidence levels.”

E: What advice would you give HR/OD/L&D teams looking to leverage apprenticeships for management &leadership development in the same way you did?

A: “…ensure that those interested have the right mindset, role and support from line manager and mentor to get the utmost from the opportunity.”

J: “For any development requirement – look to apprenticeships first. From a financial perspective we may have our L & D budgets limited but the Levy is additional funding that we will lose if we don’t use! Do your research on providers … find a partner you can trust and who understands your business. There is still a view from some that ‘apprenticeships’ are for school leavers – so spend a bit of time clarifying that this is not the case.”

E: Finally, why do you think apprenticeships make effective development pathways for managers and leaders?

T: The standard is good in terms of the content in relation to managing self and others as well as doing a project to bring about improvements or change”

A: “The apprenticeship route provides a sustained learning journey which supports true growth of individuals as leaders and managers, as well as the development of true competence through application, reflection and review with support from competent others. The EPA is a true assessment of competence which provides a comprehensive accreditation that the apprentice has the knowledge, skills and behaviours to deliver consistently with the technical area.”

J: “The structured framework ensures the practical application of knowledge on the job and we can see the benefits this is having on our managers’ growth.”

National Apprenticeship Week is all about highlighting the wide range of employees that the system can be used to develop and support – including existing/experienced managers & leaders!

With many thanks to Tracey, Ann and Jane for their thoughtful responses and advice! Hopefully these interviews have shed some light on what we believe is an extremely exciting management and leadership development opportunity.

If you would like to find out more about our supportive and flexible delivery of the Level 3 (Team Leader/Supervisor) and Level 5 (Operations/Departmental Manager) apprenticeships, send an email to [email protected] or enquire through our Talk to Us page to arrange an informal, exploratory chat!

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