FE Week’s report on the “unstoppable rise of management apprenticeships”, should be a cause for celebration as opposed to concern. For far too long management training has been a blind spot for employers – with 71 per cent of firms admitting that they fail to offer management training to first-time managers.
This is a huge mistake that urgently needs addressing. Currently UK productivity stands at 21 per cent lower than the rest of the G7, and according to OECD analysis, poor management and leadership is the number one factor affecting this total productivity gap. And research highlights how time wasted by bad management is estimated to cost business £19bn a year. This cost clearly overshadows the government’s £2.5bn budget that is pledged across the entire apprenticeship agenda by 2020.
As a nation post-Brexit, we need to be far more competitive and start investing far more in UK talent as opposed to turning to foreign workers to fill skills shortages. We clearly lack skilled managers, with historic and systemic low investment in the higher level management skills needed to drive growth. Nearly half (43 per cent) of UK managers are rated as ineffective by the people they manage, due to a lack of training.
For the sake of transparency, we must declare an interest here. The delivery of apprenticeship programmes will be through approved FE colleges, private training providers and universities, and Chartered Management Institute (CMI) qualifications and chartered status can be embedded to support these programmes. The CMI will be looking to offer an independent end-point assessment service to employers. However, as a not-for-profit professional body, we will reinvest funds from this work into our ongoing development of professional standards, in accordance with our charitable mission of creating better-led and managed organisations.
For far too long management training has been a blind spot for employers
As the only chartered professional body for management and leadership, the CMI has been supporting a strong employer-led group to pioneer the development of the trailblazer standards in management and leadership. The apprenticeship agenda offers a great opportunity for both FE colleges and private training providers, as these new standards offer pathways from level 3 team leader apprenticeships through to a chartered manager degree apprenticeship. Also in development is a masters-level degree apprenticeship for senior leaders to ensure those at the top of organisations are equipped for leading change and high performance cultures.
These programmes are being used by employers for both school leavers and for those already in the workplace. Investing in upskilling existing managers will also ensure those entering the workforce have the trickle-down impact of working for a good manager.
The rise in the number and relevance of management apprenticeships shows that leading employers are now recognising how best to drive growth. As such, it is important that the government does not restrict access to these programmes to non-levy payers. Indeed, according to the Insolvency Service statistics, poor management skills is the key reason for the high failure rate of SMEs.
As Mark Dawe, CEO of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers, rightly points out, the government needs to be careful to ensure that “critical apprenticeships such as higher level management skills for new and existing employees are also available for all employers including non-levy-payers, and those exceeding their levy pot.”
It is also important to reflect that the new high level trailblazer standards are very different to the previous apprenticeship frameworks, and require far more employer commitment to providing high quality work-based learning for the apprentices. So scaling up numbers on the new standards may take longer than the initial flurry of uptake suggest. But management will be a prize worth investing in and waiting for – if it means truly tackling our productivity puzzle.
Petra Wilton is Director of Strategy at the Chartered Management Institute