Most employers feel that middle and senior managers would be unwilling to be seen as an apprentice, meaning that businesses will miss out on funding for leadership training as apprenticeships become a key source of employers’ training budget.
Research from ILM, which looked at the training budgets and preferences of 1,000 HR decision makers in the UK, reveals that 58% of those surveyed feel middle and senior managers would be unwilling to be seen as an apprentice.
The main reasons are “reputation and image” of apprenticeships (53%) and the implication that it means they need additional support (41%).
Only one third (37%) of UK businesses are very confident about their long-term supply of leaders and managers in their organisation. The research also indicates the problem is more acute in smaller businesses, where 73% believe middle and senior managers wouldn’t be willing to be seen as an apprentice.
Professionals’ reluctance to be seen as an apprentice could be putting businesses at a significant disadvantage. Of those surveyed who currently run a formal leadership training programme to help fill middle and senior management or leadership roles, over two thirds (70%) aim their programmes at mid-level employees.
Yet only a quarter (25%) would consider using apprenticeships to improve the skills of middle managers, and 21% would consider using them to develop senior managers.
Jake Tween, head of apprenticeships at ILM, said: “Deeply ingrained associations with trade, low wages and a perception that they put a glass ceiling on progression, mean that apprenticeships have long been dismissed by those aspiring to seniority, and it’s time to put an end to it. We must work collectively – Government, employers, and providers – if we are to get to place where these prejudices are considered outdated.”
Meanwhile, UK employers have identified growing leadership skills gaps in their organisations, with half (51%) saying that the supply of leadership and management talent is being affected by factors such as a lack of talent with the right experience, a lack of available talent with the right technical or industry skills and a shortage of candidates willing to take on leadership and management roles.
This gap is set to widen, said ILM, as employer confidence in the future supply of leaders and managers in their organisations falls when looking beyond the next five years.
“At a time when businesses are being encouraged to take up apprenticeship programmes and use them to plug their most critical skills gaps, it is important that they are seen as what they really are: a highly effective way for employees at every level to gain the essential skills that businesses so desperately need, as well as a quality route for individuals to progress,” added Tween.
Earlier this year, the CIPD found that more than half of employers (53%) would prefer a more flexible “training levy” rather than an apprenticeship levy, so they could match funding to their individual training needs.