Organisational transformation | How to launch an apprenticeship scheme

How to launch an apprenticeship scheme

Running an apprenticeship scheme is an often overlooked opportunity for businesses to bring about organisational transformation. This National Apprenticeship Week, Dr Dorota Bourne, Academic Head of Apprenticeships at Henley Business School, outlines how to run the scheme so it brings about maximum transformation.

The UK workforce is ageing. 30% is over 50 according to CIPD and will be retiring in the next few decades. How can we ensure tomorrow’s leaders are well equipped to take their place?

Digital overhaul in the UK is long overdue, but the path to a new digital mindset in organisations can be rocky. How do we equip our leaders to face the rapidly advancing digital world?

And studies have found that culture was the cause of 30% of failed mergers and acquisitions. How can organisations ensure successful cultural integration?

For all of these business challenges and more, we need to ensure we are strategically developing employees and equipping organisations with the knowledge and expertise to harness future challenges and opportunities.

Running an apprenticeship scheme is an often overlooked opportunity for businesses to bring about organisational transformation. If you’re considering developing an apprenticeship scheme for your employees, there are some important considerations before doing so. Here are some of our top tips:

1. Which problems need solving?

The first step is to spot the challenges or growth areas your organisation is facing. Are you implementing new project streams or developing a new growth strategy?

Once this has been established, research the right apprenticeship course and provider to assist with this. Set strategic objectives and desired outcomes from the apprenticeship scheme – think about how it will help with your organisational challenges. It’s also crucial to seek senior-level support for the scheme, so invite relevant parties to get involved in the planning.

2. Understand your financial position

UK companies with an annual salary bill of more than £3 million are required to spend 0.5% on the apprenticeship levy. It’s a ‘use-it-or-lose-it’ tax, and if it goes unused, the government pockets it.

If this applies to your ogranisation, speak with your finance and HR departments who can help you establish how much is available in your company’s levy pot and the time left you have to use it.

3. Pick your people

You’re looking for three things when selecting the right candidates: capability, ambition and job role. Think about who is strategically placed in your business. Which of your employees have the drive to succeed? Who can manage the extra workload?

It’s also worth working with your provider to understand their entry criteria for programmes – including the eligibility for government funding.

Providing apprenticeships is also an excellent way to support diversity and inclusion in your organisation. Is there anything you can do to train up under-represented groups?

4. Practice makes perfect

Generally, apprenticeship programmes help learners develop specific knowledge, skills and behaviours. But providers can work with you to customise their programmes to address the specific context and challenges of your organisation in line with your learning and development strategy.

Practice makes perfect, so when you’ve identified the skills and knowledge you want your apprentices to develop, look for opportunities and projects in their day jobs for your apprentices to use what they’re learning.

5. Bring everyone on board

Having enthusiastic involvement from all areas of your organisation will create the best environment for apprentices to thrive and will keep momentum going throughout the programme. This culture can be set by senior leaders in your organisation and by celebrating good news stories across your internal communication channels.

A sponsorship scheme is also worth considering - can senior leaders champion and encourage your apprentices? Developing a network of supportive mentors, colleagues and sponsors around your apprentices will maximise the impact of their learning in your organisation.

6. Build a good relationship with your training partner

Yes, training partners are there to help your apprentices, but they’re also there to support the organisation.

Developing regular communication with your training provider throughout the apprenticeship scheme will help you understand how the apprentices are progressing and will enable your provider to better understand the changes occurring in your business.

At Henley, we’ve seen businesses use the apprenticeship levy – a charge introduced by the government in 2017 to encourage businesses to invest in and create apprenticeships - to bring about incredible transformation. Yet so many organisations are missing out, with more than £3.3 billion in unused levy funds surrendered to the Treasury over the last three years.

The world of work is rapidly changing, and organisations must use all the resources at their disposal to harness the opportunities of the future, rather than being surprised by it.

At Henley Business School, we work with over 190 employers to overcome their business challenges, drive growth and develop future-focused leaders. Our apprenticeships combine expert teaching with practical, on-the-job experiences for learning that has an immediate impact.

Apprenticeships offered at Henley Business School

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