Executive apprenticeships: Major employers endorse new route to development

18 October 2017 -

Anne ThomasMore and more major employers are realising the true cost of inadequate management. So it’s little surprise that many are interested in the new Senior Leader Master’s Degree Apprenticeships as an alternative route for executive development

Michelle Perry

If you ever wonder about the significance of strong managers with strong leadership skills, then consider this: research from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy shows that company directors’ incompetence or bad management cause 56% of corporate failures. Yes, many businesses collapse because they don’t have the right management.

And with Brexit-fuelled concerns about future access to top-level talent, it’s clear that equipping the British workforce with the right leadership skills, and growing our own, strong home-grown managers, is more important than ever.

No wonder the appetite for apprenticeships at senior level is growing fast among major employers such as the British Army and Serco. The new Senior Leader Master’s Degree Apprenticeship was developed by more than 30 employers and is taking root in many of the UK’s foremost employers.

Anne Thomas, head of Serco Education, is just one leader speaking up for the new breed of executive apprenticeships: “It’s 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.” She says that the Senior Leader Master’s Degree Apprenticeship will “not only contribute to the successful development of Serco employees but also the wider UK economy.”

The aim of the apprenticeship, whose development was led by Serco and Civil Service Learning (which has a long history of backing apprenticeships), is to upskill senior leaders with responsibility for directing the operations of companies or third-sector organisations, government departments or local authorities, and formulating national and local government policy.

“We value apprenticeship at Serco and we seek to grow the number of apprenticeships that we have. We have begun to deliver level 5 and already have applications for a second cohort. There’s a real appetite for this,” Thomas told an audience gathered at the House of Commons for the unveiling of the new executive apprenticeship.

More and more businesses of all sizes are realising the benefits of high-quality apprenticeships. “Being able to send employees off to study for an MBA is for the large employers, so this ‘apprenticeship MBA’ is great news for small employers,” said Bob Vince of JRV Associates.

The Army’s educational programme is often well ahead of civil society in terms of skills development, but even our armed forces are looking forward to the chance of a Master’s-level apprenticeship to add to the mix.

Speaking to the House of Commons audience, Brigadier Suzanne Anderson, the British Army’s head of individual development, explained that in the Army you are never allowed to be an accidental manager. “I went through intensive military training 20 years ago at Sandhurst and every day since then I have been topping up and developing my skills. My learning with CMI has helped me apply my skills to life,” she said.

For more information on the Senior Leader Master’s Degree Apprenticeship, visit: www.managers.org.uk/slmda or @CMI_managers

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