The answer to skill gaps in your company? Apprenticeships at University of Kent’s Global and Lifelong Learning

6 July 2022 | 42 Shares

Source: University of Kent

The future of the workforce lies not just in technology and creative innovation, but also in talent investment. This was true in the pre-pandemic landscape, and is even more crucial now as big shifts occur in organisational approach. With increased market competition, digitisation, and more hybrid working arrangements, leaders have to step up to the challenge to navigate the shifting nature of work.

Kimberley Bree is already well on her way there. Under the Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship at the University of Kent’s Global and Lifelong Learning (GLL) programme, Bree is one among many working professionals at the university who are committed to growth and lifelong learning.  

“The Apprenticeship scheme provides great learning and development opportunities. I was looking for additional professional qualifications that would help me further my career and was struggling to find something that was different to those qualifications I had already achieved,” Bree recalls of her decision to enrol for an apprenticeship at Kent.  

The Associate Project Manager at the university hasn’t looked back since starting her apprenticeship journey in 2019, which will lead to a Business Management degree and a Chartered Manager accreditation with the Chartered Management Institute (CMI).

While Bree admits that juggling work alongside her studies can be challenging, the support she has received and the useful knowledge gained through her apprenticeship has augmented her day job. 

Why apprenticeships are good for business

Not all companies emerge unscathed from the economic downturn spurred by the pandemic. Talent retention and recruitment in the Great Resignation market have become major concerns for many businesses. Finding the right candidates who fit the bill of the work that needs to be done and successfully training them up to speed is a monumental undertaking that could make or break a company. 

According to The ScaleUp Institute’s 2020 Business Survey, 65% of scale-ups in the UK confirmed that access to talent is “very important” or “vital,” with 19% rating it as a top priority. The survey quotes findings from the Industrial Strategy Council published in June 2020, which predicts that roughly seven million workers could be severely underskilled in basic digital literacy, core management, and STEM skills by 2030. 

The solution is plain and simple: it’s time to invest in apprenticeships. It’s the perfect answer to the modern skills gap that benefits both businesses and employees. The numbers don’t lie either: 86% of employers believe apprenticeships helped them cultivate relevant skills for their organisation, while 74% said it aided in the improvement of their product or service.

When businesses undertake apprenticeships, they can either recruit new talent into the fold, or upskill existing employees to pave new career progression routes. For current staff, upskilling through high-level apprenticeships is an inducement for them to remain in the company while they acquire the tools to step into greater leadership roles. 

Apprenticeships at Kent include value-adding workplace projects that are designed to benefit both individuals and organisations. Rated among the “Top 50 Training Providers” for apprenticeships in the UK, the university is home to apprentices who boldly launch new products, kick off impactful projects, and streamline organisational processes to optimise workflow for businesses. 

Depending on the company size, the cost for an apprenticeship at Kent can be covered up to 100% under the UK Apprenticeship Levy or through co-investment funding. The payoff is sizable on multiple fronts, not just for the apprentice or employers. A study by the Centre for Economics and Business Research found that apprenticeships contribute 34 billion pounds to the economy: for every one pound of public money spent on apprenticeships, the economy thrived by 21 pounds. 

Innovating global talent through world-class delivery

Just like the Chartered Manager apprenticeship, the Level 7 Senior Leader (MA) Apprenticeship leading to an MA in Business and Management is taught face-to-face in Central London at the iconic Marble Arch location. 

Delivered by the award-winning Kent Business School, Senior Leader apprentices go through an 18-month training where they interact with changemakers from multiple industries in person. By the end of their apprenticeship, they will have matured into leaders with highly specialised strategic thinking that are adaptable in a digital environment. 

Seetharam Krishnamurthy can attest to this transformation. The occupational therapist has served the National Health Service (NHS) for years, but felt that he needed an upgrade to grow into leadership roles on the operational side. The Deputy General Manager for Acute Medicine and Geriatrics at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Hospital Trust has huge responsibilities on his shoulders, but his apprenticeship at Kent has given him the tools he needed to reframe his approach to health care management. 

“The Innovation modules of the Level 7 Senior Leadership Apprenticeship were by far my favourite and have really changed the way I think and view my profession,” he says. He’s learned in-depth about finance and management, allowing him to collaborate with multiple departments in his work. It has also helped him transition into a more responsible department head who is more attuned to employee wellbeing and crisis management during a global pandemic. 

Sonia Hedegaard, another NHS employee under the same apprenticeship, experienced firsthand just how her work performance has improved throughout her journey in Kent: “I have developed mental agility and it has enhanced my performance at work in so many ways. This includes being an independent thinker, increased quality and depth to projects that I lead on, and improved ability in my application to the task.” 

The Global and Lifelong Learning apprenticeships at the University of Kent are the perfect springboard for employees to develop agility, resilience, and advanced facility in organisational management in the digital age. As the race to retain and recruit the best talents intensifies, businesses with leaders like Bree, Krishnamurthy, and Hedegaard are the ones that will hold a competitive advantage over others. Ultimately, companies that value upskilling are investing in their own longevity and success.