The introduction of the government’s apprenticeship levy in England in 2017 is leading to changes in the way companies view apprentices.
While level 2 and level 3 apprenticeships are not going away, the number of level 4 management apprenticeships and higher has seen a significant increase – over 400 per cent in the last academic year – according to the Department for Education.
This change is driven in part by the need for employers to spend their levy pot. Management apprenticeships, such as a level 6 chartered management apprenticeship, cost around £27,000. This is much more than lower-level apprenticeships, which reduces the risk the levy will not be spent.
Higher-level apprenticeships are also seen as less risky than those at level 2 or level 3, which tend to involve taking on younger people with fewer skills and/or qualifications. They may not be clear about their career path, resulting in more dropping out because the job is not for them or changing careers after completing the course. This is not cost-effective for employers.
People entering higher-level management apprenticeships are likely to be older and have a clearer idea of what they want to achieve. Management apprenticeships, take up for which increased from 740 to 3,880 between August and September 2017, are also attractive because they offer an alternative to university but still result in a degree-level qualification.
This is something the government is keen to support, with skills minister Anne Milton stating that university should not be the default setting for people leaving school.
The director of strategy and external affairs at the Chartered Management Institute, Petra Wilton, said this route enables many learners to get the best of both worlds.
Individuals get a full degree from a recognised university at the same time as gaining work experience and professional recognition from the institute. The Chartered Management Institute’s course is offered through 31 universities, providing a range of options for employers and apprentices, with approximately 3,000 currently registered.
There are several benefits to taking a management apprenticeship. Some of the most commonly stated are that people are in paid employment while gaining their qualification and do not have to worry about building up student loan debt.
Those who are already in employment and are offered an apprenticeship through their current employer do not have to take a career break; instead, they can continue to progress in their careers at the same time as studying, which Wilton highlights as a particular benefit for women in middle management.
There are also benefits for employers, with large companies such as Barclays and Boots taking on management apprentices in the last year and seeing this as a way to bring something new to the workplace and create motivated employees who can help their business to succeed.
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