CMI Statement on FE Week article

We find it regrettable that legitimate and pertinent questions about the structural funding issues preventing more young people undertaking a life-changing apprenticeship have been eclipsed by a narrative pitting young people starting out against existing older workers upskilling at higher levels. We need an apprenticeship programme that invests in both – it is not a zero sum game.

CMI shares FE Week’s concerns about falling apprenticeship starts for young people and within SMEs. That said, the decline in lower-level apprenticeship starts partly reflects improvements in the quality of training, which the apprenticeship levy was designed to achieve by putting employers in the driving seat. We agree that more needs to be done to ensure employers are properly incentivised to take on young people, and to provide a sustainable funding structure for employers who do not pay the levy. CMI will be submitting evidence to the upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review on this issue.

It is important to clarify who benefits from higher level management apprenticeships like the Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship (CMDA) and the Senior Leader Master’s Degree Apprenticeship (SLMDA). It is regional businesses and the UK workforce who are now, through their apprenticeship, gaining the skills and knowledge to improve their business practices and processes, create new opportunities, become more resilient, and realise areas of higher study that many were not previously able to access. Our recent analysis of available CMI SLMDA data from over 4,000 starts, shows that they are widening participation, levelling-up regional skills, and boosting productivity.

  • Of those SLMDA apprenticeships where we can identify the sector:
    • 61% work in the public sector or not for profit (52% in the public sector and 9% not for profit).
    • 39% work in the private sector.
    • Only 7% are employed in FTSE 350 companies
  • 70% of CMI SLMDA apprentices are in regions with lower than average UK productivity levels, whilst 40% are located in the 4 regions of England ONS identify as having the lowest levels of productivity.
  • 48% are female.

These qualifications speak directly to this government’s commendable levelling up agenda. The SLMDA has an important role to play in diversifying the leadership pipeline and a critical role in boosting regional development, which has a knock-on effect on job creation.

It is welcome that in the Budget this week, the Government confirmed it is looking at how to improve the working of the levy, and ensure it supports large and small employers in long-term skill needs of the economy. The government’s own productivity review highlighted the vital importance of investing in leadership and management skills to tackle flatlining productivity. De-funding higher level management courses would hamper the country’s efforts to address clear skills shortages in this area, and reduce the quality of provision and training opportunities across the country.

Our Activities as a Chartered Organisation

CMI's mission is to increase the number and standard of professionally qualified managers. We do this by working with hundreds of education providers to support their students - at all ages and all levels - to access high quality education and training that is aligned with our professional standards. We review our professional standards annually in line with employer feedback and industry developments, ensuring all our qualifications are equipping learners with the skills employers need. Our most recent survey of 2,291 management apprentices in January 2020 found that:

  • 98% of all MAs agreed that their apprenticeships helped them to gain at least one of CMI Professional Standards Management Competencies. These were
    • Communicating and influencing (92%)
    • Managing yourself (92%)
    • Developing people and capabilities (91%)
    • Making decisions (88%)
    • Providing purpose and direction (88%)
    • Achieving results (88%)
    • Building relationships and networks (87%)
    • Leading change and innovation (87%)
    • Managing resource and risk (84%)
  • Over 9 in 10 apprentices (91%) of apprentices agreed that their apprenticeship was or is helping them to develop the skills they need to be more productive at work
  • Nearly 9 in 10 apprentices (88%) of apprentices agreed that their apprenticeship was or is giving them better career prospects
  • Nearly three quarters (74%) of apprentices agreed that their apprenticeship was or is giving them the skills they need to achieve promotion in their current role
  • Just over 9 in 10 (91%) completed apprentices agreed that their apprenticeship has had a positive impact on their contribution to the organisation that they work for.

Since the introduction of the levy, CMI has taken the lead in improving quality of provision and innovating this so that it meets the needs of apprentices and employers. We have a number of case studies which highlight how the levy has created opportunities for people to access high quality leadership and management training through apprenticeships that previously were only available to employees on major graduate schemes and talent programmes, and in the Civil Service. This is having an impact on employer and apprentice outcomes – boosting opportunity, increasing participation and allowing for faster progression.

CMI is one of a handful of End Point Assessment Organisations (EPAOs) involved with management and leadership apprenticeships. Our End Point Assessment (EPA) fees are neither the most expensive, nor the cheapest, and they always adhere to the boundaries set out by the ESFA. As a charity, the profit from our fees is reinvested into CMI’s charitable mission of creating better led and managed organisations. Apprenticeships are also only one of various activities that CMI undertakes as a chartered professional body; In the 2018/19 financial year they only accounted for approximately 25% of our total income.

It is worth noting that CMI’s pricing includes embedded assessment for Chartered Status (or for lower levels, Foundation Chartered Status) at no additional cost. This delivers significant additional benefits to the individual, their organisation and the economy as a whole. Please find the independent research which collated the evidence of the impact of Chartered Manager at this link: The Value Of Chartered Managers.

Fundamentally, CMI is working to help improve the lives of our learners, educators, and employers, and to bring benefits to a wide range of sectors. Practical management education is one key aspect of this, and on the question of apprenticeships, we shouldn’t allow the choice to become between investing in new and younger apprentices at lower levels or older, existing workers who need to retrain or upskill at higher levels. As a country, we need both.