The RSA has previously highlighted the need for UK businesses to increase the upskilling of their workforces. In fact, businesses themselves have pressed the government for more investment in training for this purpose.
Now, with the Apprenticeship Levy, the government has put policy into practice. But to fully exploit this opportunity, businesses must be more open to how they can make apprenticeships work for them.
Misconceptions and Opportunities
The new system has its critics, but one of the main obstacles it faces is the perception on the part of many organisations and businesses of what apprenticeships are.
“Part of the problem may lie in the word itself. Apprenticeship suggests young people starting out, and, for many, it’s also associated with technical or vocational skills only,” observes Richard Egan of RICH Learning Solutions.
As Richard points out, it is a question of using the levy to its full potential, maximising its flexibility.
“You can use apprenticeships to support your whole business,” he suggests, “not just people starting out. Apprenticeships can be a way of upskilling your existing staff.”
“Upskilling can help firms invest in their employees, giving them the essential skills to transform business performance,” continues Richard. “This is particularly valuable in developing leadership skills.”
“Skills are a key driver when it comes to growth, but it’s pointless if you upskill people but don’t then use them. This is why it’s important to embed upskilling in your business, to build leadership as part of business development”
Richard explains that one key area for leadership training is in developing emotional intelligence (EI) for managers.
“This is about how people understand and manage their own emotions, and those of others, and how this impacts on leadership skills,” he says. “A leader who stays calm and in control is a successful leader.”
Integration and Consistency
Making the Apprenticeship Levy into an effective driver for growth requires integrating apprenticeships fully into a business structure.
“It should be a long-term commitment, which will yield enduring results,” Richard advises. “It’s about building an upskilling strategy that’s consistent with your overall objectives, and which will work as an apprenticeship scheme.”
“While the levy is imposed, it should be taken as a strategic opportunity, rather than an obligation,” Richard emphasises. You must understand your training requirements to invest in the essential skills your business needs.”
“Give your staff the training they need to empower themselves as decision-makers, and ensure they’re equipped with the emotional intelligence and insight to lead”
“Businesses should develop apprenticeship training programmes that are consistent with their aims, and which dovetail with their existing programmes, where relevant,” concludes Richard. “This provides a consistency that will help ensure the integration of apprenticeships so that they are seen to have true value.”
To match upskilling to your needs, and to make the Apprenticeship Levy into your ally for business leadership development, call RICH Learning Solutions on 07900 191052 or visit richlearningsolutions.com.