The real benefits of the Apprenticeship Levy: The educator's view
Gillian Saieva, head of business, finance and accounting at Southampton Solent University, oversees the management and leadership provision of higher and degree apprenticeships. Here’s her insight on getting the most out of a collaboration between educators and employers
Guest blogger Gillian Saieva
When Higher and Degree Apprenticeships were announced, and the Levy loomed in April last year, there was much talk among employers and education providers that ‘it would never catch on.’ Many discussion forums alluded to the Levy being written off as a tax. Organisations said they were too busy to engage with the support requirements for their staff members and everyone else seemed confused about how it would work, and too busy to even try and work it out.
With the first birthday of the Levy fast approaching, and with accrued monies burning a hole in many of the levy payers’ pots, what is the reality of higher and degree apprenticeships?
The mood is positive
If we consider the spread of diversity on our level 5 Operations and Departmental Manager and Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeships (CMDA), the overarching mood around what higher and degree apprenticeships can do for organisations, large or small, is very positive.
Gaining a degree qualification alongside professional accreditation has been seen as valuable. An ex-police inspector, who is now a specialist project manager with a global security consultancy firm based locally, says the CMDA is allowing him to “learn how the business world is changing as a result of advances in technology.” He says it helps to “keep your eyes on the horizon.”
His advice to anyone thinking about studying a Higher or Degree Apprenticeship is to “work hard, play hard, and invest in your future.” He explains: “Studying allows you to underpin practice with theory, while also drawing on valuable work and life experience.” He sees this route as a unique opportunity to formalise his management and leadership experience, to obtain a degree and Chartered Manager (CMgr) status.
Working across a range of organisations is very fulfilling from an education provider’s perspective. For example, a regional public sector organisation has staff on our level 5 Operations and Departmental Manager and level 6 CMDA. They have aspirations for our level 7 Senior Leaders Master Degree Apprenticeship (SLMDA) as well. The course flexibility means we can best suit the employer and apprentice’s development needs. With a clear route for progression, we can support the accidental manager through to Strategic Manager and Leader level, offering the benefits of professional accreditation as well as embedding the skills and behaviours attributed to apprenticeships.
Overall, employers that are choosing to adapt their learning and development strategy to embrace the benefits of apprenticeships are seeing the value. Considering the Apprenticeship Levy as a tax and not applying the funds to improve effectiveness means, ultimately, (and especially in business) if you snooze, you lose!