Maybe the word apprenticeship needs to be revisited, rethought and explained with better clarity, as the benefits of apprenticeships, whether for management or beyond, are worth the investment. Here Jenny Perkins, Head of Engagement at Cirrus talks your organisation through the know-how behind implementing apprenticeships to your benefit.
The UK Apprenticeship Levy came into place in April this year and can be used to offer government-subsidised learning to employees across your entire organisation. This includes leaders and managers, who can benefit from management apprenticeships. Some of these people may associate the word ‘apprenticeship’ with entry-level staff and feel that management apprenticeships are not for them. How can you encourage leaders to engage with these new opportunities if they find the word ‘apprenticeship’ off-putting?
As a senior leader, you are well placed to champion management apprenticeships across your organisation. Here’s how…
Make it aspirational. Don’t shy away from the misconception that apprenticeships are only relevant for early careers. Explain why professional management apprenticeships are relevant and valuable for more experienced managers and leaders. They are qualifications to aspire to.
Visibly support management apprenticeships. Senior leaders are instrumental in engaging everyone across the business with the big ‘why’ of apprenticeship training. Authentic communication from the C-suite can lay out the organisational and individual benefits.
Highlight the individual benefits. Management apprenticeships equip individuals for future success, wherever their career path takes them.
Engage your line managers. Line managers can benefit from management apprenticeships. They can also engage others. Their support can make all the difference between the success and failure of both the individual learner and the whole apprenticeship learning experience. Provide a detailed briefing for line managers which clearly outlines the benefits for them in supporting the achievement of their team’s goals.
Be clear about what’s involved and what’s expected. Lay out the learning journey in a simple and accessible way so that learners can understand the road map and don’t fall at the inevitable hurdles and setbacks they will meet along the way. A straightforward guide to management apprenticeships which recognises the challenges as well as the benefits will further develop the aspirational element of the programme.
Harness the power of peer support. Create champions and ambassadors as you develop your management apprenticeships. People at every level who can tell positive stories about their own experiences and support others by showing how they overcame any barriers or doubts will contribute to successful completion rates and support the gathering of success stories and experience sharing.
Keep messaging regular and consistent. Avoid kicking off the programme with a huge fanfare and not maintaining momentum. Learners, line managers and the entire organisation need to be in it for the long term, so create a communications plan which recognises all the key milestones and build the drum beat throughout the programme with regular messages, newsletters, feedback, and storytelling.
Maximise the virtual connections. In a connected, digital world people expect virtual delivery and communication to form a major part of any programme experience. Underpin management apprenticeships with a digital platform, which not only supports learning delivery, but engages participants by creating a community for sharing experiences, asking questions, and providing in-the-moment feedback.
Make it relevant. To qualify for funding and to get the best out of a programme, apprentices need to spend 20% of their time at work on relevant activities. This doesn’t mean being away from the office in face-to-face training one day a week. Build projects and challenges over the length of the programme which complement the day job, benefitting both the learner and the organisation, providing stretch for the future but also enriching the current role.
Celebrate success. Graduation ceremonies and awards develop future aspirations and are widely recognised as a great motivator. However, don’t wait until the end of a programme to celebrate. Recognise milestones along the way, gather success stories and communicate regularly. A simple ‘well done’ from a leader can be worth a great deal and costs nothing.