Employers that pay the apprenticeship levy will be able to use their training fund to pay for the development of executive skills, after the funding band for the senior leader Master’s degree apprenticeship was given the green light.
The funding category for the two-year apprenticeship, which aims to develop management skills for employees moving into senior and strategic management positions, has now been set at £18,000 by the Government.
According to the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), which supported the development of the apprenticeship, around 900 people had been waiting to start the programme since it was approved by the Institute for Apprenticeships last August.
Once complete, apprentices will receive a Master’s degree in management, and there is the option to work towards a Master of Business Administration qualification.
The senior leader Master’s degree apprenticeship was developed by more than 30 employers including Serco, Barclays, Sainsbury’s and the NHS.
Petra Wilton, director of strategy at the CMI, said: “We’re delighted that this new Master’s level apprenticeship is now ready for delivery, as we know there’s already pent-up demand with many employers keen to get started.
“CMI has worked closely with both the trailblazer group and higher education providers to develop standards that really meet the leadership needs of businesses across the UK.
“To tackle both our poor productivity and the uncertainties of Brexit, now more than ever, we need strong leaders. This means that top teams need professional leadership skills to drive business performance and growth.”
A survey by the CIPD earlier this year found that more than half of employers would prefer a more flexible training levy to the apprenticeship levy in order to meet their training requirements. Around 46% planned to rebadge existing training schemes as apprenticeships in order to access their fund.
Apprenticeship schemes flourish when they are taken seriously at board level,” – Sue Husband, National Apprenticeship Service
Speaking to Personnel Today ahead of National Apprenticeship Week, which starts on Monday, National Apprenticeship Service director Sue Husband said apprenticeships needed to become a board-level priority.
She said: “Large companies should make someone responsible for their apprenticeship programme and take it to the HR director and at board meetings.
“Apprenticeship schemes flourish when they are taken seriously at board level.”
Husband said employers should think differently when developing their apprenticeship programmes, for example creating part-time opportunities, to ensure they attract a diverse pool of people.
“We have a skills gap that is quite stubborn and a challenge around productivity,” she explained. “While I can’t say that apprenticeships are the only solution [to the skills crisis] there is evidence to show they can help.”
From April, businesses that pay the levy will be able to transfer 10% of their apprenticeship fund to non-levy-paying organisations. Husband said this was currently being trialled by a few organisations, and imagined that mostly larger employers would take advantage of the ability to transfer their funds.