Apprenticeships – the story so far

Posted by rmt22 at Jul 12, 2018 12:35 PM |
We are reshaping the way we offer education, looking at apprenticeships as a way to develop our staff and students.

Apprenticeships have long been known as an alternative route to ‘learn while you earn’ and get hands-on experience rather than taking a higher education pathway. But over the last year there has been a fundamental change driven by Government interventions to stimulate an increase in skills (with a goal of 3 million apprenticeship starts by 2020) and enhance training quality. These include:

  • The introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy in May 2017
  • The replacement of apprenticeship frameworks by standards developed by employers
  • The rise of degree and higher level apprenticeships

At the University we are looking at two specific areas: apprenticeships for staff development and the introduction of degree apprenticeships.

Apprenticeships for staff

Historically, the University has offered a small number of apprenticeship opportunities and knows that they can work well. For example, Jack Savage from the Department of Physics and Astronomy completed an Electronic/Electrical Apprenticeship, saying: I learnt a lot of skills that I put straight into practice when coming into work.”

January 2018, however, saw a step change in apprenticeships given the ambition to re-invest the University’s levy effectively (led by Kate Bradley). Building on the existing strengths of the Vital Leadership Programme (VLP), Organisational Development (OD) has extended the training and created an apprenticeship dimension by embedding two leadership and management apprenticeships. Staff who want to go the extra mile can opt to gain a full apprenticeship qualification by undertaking a programme of work run by Leicester College on top of the internally led VLP sessions. This initiative has been led by Dr Leigh Casey to further develop leadership and management organisational capability and make best use of the levy.

Kate Westlake (Distance Learning Team Leader in Student and Academic Services) who is in the first cohort of 14, summarised the value of her apprenticeship learning: “Through self-awareness activities I have been able to identify my strengths and weaknesses, and work on developing managerial techniques, as well as build on my existing leadership skills.”

Staff have also recently enrolled on programmes including IT Infrastructure Technician, Electrical Installation and Children and Young People’s Workforce to form part of the newly established University wide apprenticeship community. Moreover, the Technicians Commitment and the findings of a study conducted by OD are leading us to explore further opportunities for technical staff.

Degree apprenticeships

We have also registered to deliver degree apprenticeships and extend our commercial offering to business. With a focus on several key areas of academic expertise, we are now exploring employer demand and training requirements for employees in order to work in partnership with industry. Areas of focus include offering the Senior Leader Master’s Degree Apprenticeship; as well as developing and delivering qualifications in space engineering and protective services (policing) - Dr Rob Dover and Dr Nigel Bannister sit on the respective trailblazer groups for shaping these new standards. This work has been driven by Professor Paul Monks in order to diversify our offer and bring in additional revenue, which is more important than ever.

What now?

We are still working on both our apprenticeship offerings but our approach is to help staff develop and formally recognise their skills, and for new talent to join the University with the incentive of gaining a new qualification; as well as meet the learning and development needs of business.

President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Paul Boyle said: “The new opportunities provided by apprenticeships not only allow us to look after and develop our staff by enhancing innovation and productivity, but also to attract new students and widen participation through the delivery of new programmes for business”.

If you’re interested in doing an apprenticeship, first speak to your line manager to see if this fits with your personal development plans. And for more details about the types of opportunities available contact orgdev@leicester.ac.uk.

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