The Government’s Apprenticeship Levy is now in force. It has already attracted a fair share of criticism, not least from the CBI. One such criticism is that it only rewards those businesses paying in to it with money for off-the-job training, rather than on-the-job.
“Apprenticeships already struggle with an image problem,” Richard Egan of Birmingham-based RICH Learning Solutions observes, “and because the Government is not paying towards on-the-job aspects of training, then some see the scheme as inherently flawed.”
This scepticism is echoed by many of those whom apprenticeships are aimed at, who often see them as a lesser option, restricted to manual and trades jobs, when compared to further education.
“Many apprenticeships are hugely important, and well-regarded by business and industry alike, none more so than those involving leadership and management training”
Perceptions and Personal Development
So-called soft skills are playing an increasingly prominent part in modern management, and this is reflected in a recent report from the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM).
“The ILM report highlights the need for managers to be agile and responsive and to be adaptable to changes in both technology and culture in the workplace,” states Richard. “A people-first approach is already a priority in many not-for-profit organisations and the charitable sector”
Richard advocates experiential learning for apprentices involved in leadership development, where they can face challenges in a safe environment.
“Helping people develop their emotional intelligence and people skills will give them resources that will continue to benefit them, and their employers, throughout their careers”
Richard believes that this kind of training, while not on-the-job, will ensure that apprentices are expertly well-equipped for leadership roles.
“Personal and professional development are intimately intertwined,” he says. “By giving people the skills to work well with others on a personal level, you equip them for life.”
Value Added Training
Providing value added training is what will give the apprenticeships the sort of weight to make them a more attractive option.
Richard stresses the importance of employers looking at the Apprenticeship Levy as a long-term, strategic opportunity, rather than something they simply must spend to comply with regulations, or to swiftly get their money back.
“The Apprenticeship Levy has to be about the carrot, more than the stick. This means making sure businesses paying into it can see the value in it, alongside the apprentices themselves”
Obviously, they might be driven to want to get back some money from it as soon as possible, but businesses should look at the competitive advantage of having a quality programme that attracts, and nurtures new talent.”
Off-the-job training for apprentices can mean giving them a depth of knowledge that will ensure their versatility and adaptability as managers. For businesses, this should make apprenticeships a sound investment.
“Putting people first, and nurturing the personal skills to make them into outstanding managers and leaders can do this,” Richard concludes.