Despite the wealth of advantages that higher and degree apprenticeships have to offer, there may still be many questions and concerns around whether to make the transition or not – whether that comes from the senior leaders, HR and L&D teams or the line managers themselves.
With this in mind, we’ve compiled and addressed the key questions we’re hearing from employers to help answer them. If you, or people you work with, are unsure on certain aspects of how apprenticeships could be implemented in your organisation, then hopefully these Q&As will be of help:
Q: I’m keen to develop existing staff but I am concerned about the 20 per cent off-the-job requirement?
A: Although all apprenticeships have a 20 per cent off-the-job requirement, it doesn’t mean the apprentice has to spend 20 per cent out of the organisation. The time can be spent in the office, even at their desk, as long as the apprentice is doing things that aren’t part of their normal job, including job shadowing, attending and observing meetings and studying towards the qualification aspect of the apprenticeship. What’s great about a blended-learning delivery approach, is that it is incredibly flexible with fitting around work.
If you take the Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship, for example, the management theory is directly related to the job, so the learning can be applied straight away. The apprentice will also be honing other skills, such as increased performance levels and time management, so the benefits can be steadily reaped as they progress though the programme.
Q: If I develop existing staff via higher and degree apprenticeships, will I have to honour their current salary?
A: Funding for training and salary are two distinct things. If you think the apprenticeship vehicle will help existing staff to develop new skills and raise performance, then there’s no reason why you can’t keep them on their current salary while they learn. The training and assessment costs of the apprenticeship programme are funded, not the apprentice’s salary and while there is a minimum apprenticeship wage, there is no maximum. Also, don’t forget that the training is directly related to their work and they can apply what they’ve learnt almost immediately.
Q: Some degree apprenticeships can take four years to complete. How do I know the skills developed won’t be out of date by the time the apprentices graduate?
A: With the Digital and Technology Solutions Degree Apprenticeship, for example, it has a development programme at its core. As a four-year programme, two of those years involve developing some core IT and technology skills that fundamentally aren’t going to change, such as how core systems and networks work.
The programme will provide a broad education with some specialist training, but for many apprentices this will only be the start of their learning journey. The technology sector evolves at a rapid rate, so you’ll be able to continue to develop these members of staff. Also, this programme allows you to bolt-on additional specialist technical training that meets your particular skills needs, such as Microsoft, CISCO or IBM training.
Q: I’m not sure there are appropriate standards that meet my organisation’s needs, what do I do?
A: New standards are being continually developed around specific occupational areas. Currently, there are 147 new standards approved for delivery but employers can look forward to as many as 1,600 by 2020. We can help you look for appropriate standards and if there aren’t any, then we can connect you with other employers to build a trailblazer group to develop a standard.
However, all organisations would benefit from higher level skills in management and digital technology, so we’d recommend you explore these options to see how they could drive capability and performance in your organisation.
David Willett, Director Corporate Sales, The Open University, co-founded an apprenticeship and talent management business in 2005 before joining the University. With over 15 years’ experience of delivering partnership programmes to a number of blue chip companies and large public sector organisations, David helps organisations like yours to implement degree apprenticeship programmes.
Our flexible training methods – a blend of tutor-supported online, face-to-face and work-based learning – mean your apprentices can fit study around their job and you won’t have staff out at key times. Plus, less time away from the workplace means a more productive team and reduced expenses. As our learning is work-based and accessible 24/7, apprentices can apply their newfound knowledge to their roles immediately.
Please contact us to speak to one of our business team advisors.