Government gives greenlight to employers to develop a Master's apprenticeship for senior leaders

Government approval to develop a new Master’s-level degree apprenticeship in leadership and management means organisations will be able to use Apprenticeship Levy funds to invest in the skills of their most senior leaders.

16 September 2016  - The Department for Education (DfE) gave the go-ahead for this new apprenticeship to be developed this week, which will include a Master’s degree and Chartered Fellow professional recognition, and is aimed senior executives and C-suite level.

The apprenticeship will be designed by employers to develop the skill sets of those working in private, public and not-for-for-profit sectors with responsibility for directing the operations of companies or third sector organisations, government departments or local authorities, and formulating national and local government policy.

The announcement is welcome news at a time of renewed focus on upskilling the UK, as Brexit continues to fuel concerns about future access to top-level international talent.

The critical nature of these roles means that not having the right management and leadership skills can lead to the ultimate failure of the business. BIS data reveals that incompetence or bad management of company directors causes 56% of corporate failures*. BIS data also reveal that poor leadership and management costs the UK economy £19bn a year in lower productivity.

This new apprenticeship will be developed by a group of more than 30 employers** led by Serco and Civil Service Learning, and supported by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI). It adds to the Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship, which was launched in November 2015, and the team leader and operational manager apprenticeships launched in June 2016, providing a progression route for employers to invest in managers at all levels.

Apprenticeships and Skills Minister Robert Halfon said:

In the past, getting a Master’s degree was something you could only do with a traditional university course. Our reforms to apprenticeships are changing that. These new Master’s level apprenticeships will offer a ladder of opportunity for people and mean that regardless of your background, you can get the advanced skills in leadership and management that top employers want and need.”

Petra Wilton, CMI’s director of strategy, commented:

“This exciting new Master’s level apprenticeship means that employers will now be able to lead by example and ensure that top teams have the professional leadership skills needed to drive growth. This highest level apprenticeship will also help to challenge snobbery around vocational routes and can help demonstrate how these new apprenticeships really can provide pathways through to the top.”


Melanie Nicholson, Serco’s Director of Skills, commented:

It is vital for Serco that we develop and retain our skilled and professional senior managers who enable their teams and the business to deliver essential services for our customers. We are happy to be leading the development of this important new masters level apprenticeship standard with Civil Service Learning, and other employers.  I am sure this apprenticeship will not only contribute to the successful development of Serco employees but also the wider UK economy.”


Employers can contribute to the development of the Master’s degree apprentice. Click here to get in contact: apprenticeships.managers.org.uk/development-of-the-new-standard

*Leadership and Management in the UK – The key to sustainable growth – a summary of the evidence for the value of investing in leadership and management development, BIS, 2012

**List of employers committed to developing this standard:  

Serco (employer chair), Civil Service (employer chair); Acivico (Birmingham City Council); Anglo Educational; Barclays; Balfour Beatty; Barchester Healthcare; Boots UK Ltd; British Army; BBC; CMI; Codegent; Co-op; DFS; EY Foundation; Interserve; KPMG; Manchester Airport; Manchester City Council; Morgan Sindell; NHS (Dept of Health); Opus Building Services; Pearson; Pendragon plc; Royal Navy Apprenticeship Centre (Babcock); Sainsburys; Santander UK plc; Speedy Services; TFL; Tui; umi Digital; Unipart; United Utilities plc; Virgin Media; Wincanton; and XPO Logistics.

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Notes to editors:

About CMI

  • The Chartered Management Institute (CMI) is the only chartered professional body for management and leadership, dedicated to improving managers’ skills and growing the number of qualified managers.

  • Our professional management qualifications span GCSE to PhD equivalent levels, including the unique Chartered Manager award, which increases earnings potential and improves workplace performance.
  • We provide employers and individual managers with access to the latest management thinking and with practical online support which helps them embrace change, create high performing teams and keep ahead of the curve.

  • With a member community of 120,000+ managers and leaders, we promote high standards of ethical practice through our Professional Code of Conduct, and help managers build their expertise through online networks, regional events and mentoring opportunities.
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