When the Government set up the Apprenticeship Levy, its stated aim was to create 3 million apprenticeships by 2020. The introduction of the levy has not been without controversy. Doubters, including the CBI, have pointed out that the money available, once the levy is paid, is restricted to off-the-job elements of apprenticeship training.
“Companies should look at ways of maximising the return they get from their levy payments,” he suggests. “and one area where they can make this happen is in leadership development.”
Changing the View of Apprenticeships
Richard sees one barrier to the success of the levy being the negative view of apprenticeships coming from those eligible to become apprentices.
“Some see apprenticeships as second class, and restricted to manual and trade jobs,” Richard remarks. “The success of the levy, to some extent, depends on how to reshape perceptions about apprenticeships.”
One way is to look at the value of training people for leadership and management roles, focusing on their personal and professional development. Richard points out that while employers might want to get something back immediately from their levy payments, they should also consider the long-term advantages apprenticeships can offer.
“If businesses and organisations signing up to the levy focus on people and on developing capable leaders, then they are making a commitment for the future,” Richard explains. “This sense of commitment adds value to the apprenticeship itself.”
A valuable apprenticeship can make a business more competitive, attracting new talent through their apprenticeship scheme”
How Can You Maximise ROI?
A persistent criticism of the Apprenticeship Levy is that it excludes on-the-job training, which many see as being essential to the success of training apprentices.
“The CBI is concerned that if employers are still having to fund on-the-job training, they will not see a sufficient return on what they are paying in to the levy,” Richard comments. “But what if employers concentrate instead on personal development, and on nurturing emotional intelligence?”
“What are traditionally thought of as soft skills are now playing an increasingly prominent and vital role in management training and leadership development. This is particularly true of the charitable sector and not-for-profit organisations”
A recent report from the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM) suggests that, in the future, managers must be more agile and responsive, which means honing their people skills along with being prepared for both technical and cultural changes in the workplace.
“By focusing on experiential learning and giving apprentices the kind of leadership skills which will have enduring value, companies can make the Apprenticeship Levy work well for themselves and the apprentices they take on”
“The quality of their interaction with people will be what defines good managers and leaders in the future,” Richard concludes. “The Apprenticeship Levy is here to stay, so ensuring apprentices have these skills is a sound long-term investment.”