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Building Excellence: The Apprenticeship Advantage

Building Excellence: The Apprenticeship Advantage

Picture102152024 - Business ExpressBy Tasmin Raynor, Director of Apprenticeships, The OCM

Tasmin Raynor, Director of Apprenticeships, The OCM

National Apprenticeship Week celebrates the profound impact of skills development and apprenticeship training. In recent years, businesses have increasingly recognised apprenticeships as a dynamic pathway to nurture employees, with UK apprenticeship starts rising by 7.0% to 130,830 in 2023/24.

A recent UK report into the financial services employment market from recruitment consultancy Idex[1] highlighted concerns among financial services employees about their career prospects.

With limited viability in raising salaries due to escalating costs, professional development offers an alternative to boost engagement and motivation. Contrary to misconceptions, apprenticeships cater to employees across all levels and can significantly boost retention rates. Department of Education data shows that 62% of apprentices remain with their training company post-apprenticeship, while 76% of employers report improved staff retention.

How the Apprenticeship Levy works in England

For employers in England, the Apprenticeship Levy has transformed the apprenticeship landscape. Launched in 2017, the levy requires employers with a pay bill of more than £3 million yearly to invest 0.5% of their payroll into the levy.

The funds generated from the Levy are deposited into each paying employer’s Digital Apprenticeship Service (DAS) account. Employers in England can then use these funds to pay for apprenticeship training and assessment costs.

The government applies a 10% top-up to the funds in these accounts, so for every £1 that enters the account; the employer gets £1.10 to spend on apprenticeship training. Funds in an employer’s DAS account expire 24 months after they enter the account if they are not spent on apprenticeship training. This encourages employers to invest in apprenticeship training and use their funds efficiently.

Nurturing Coaching and Mentoring Proficiencies

Despite the intent behind the Apprenticeship Levy, research reveals underutilisation of funds and missed opportunities. Research from City & Guilds and the 5% Club in the UK found that employers have spent an average of 55.5% of their apprenticeship levy funding in the last five years[2] highlighting that half of the generated funding has not been used by Levy paying employers and may go to waste.

One option for banking and finance firms to make use of apprenticeship funding is to consider giving staff access to higher level apprenticeships as a training and development tool and demonstrate their commitment to career progression within the organisation.

Coaching and mentoring apprenticeships can offer significant long-term benefits to upskill workers in these areas, which can be invaluable in many roles, including management and leadership positions. Employers could use their levy funds to invest in training that has the potential to bring about transformational change.

By equipping the workforce with coaching and mentoring skills, businesses are not only ensuring they can perform their current roles more effectively, but they are prepared for leadership positions in the future.

Lisa Ingram was working for Amey, an organisation that manages infrastructure & public services across the UK, when she decided to do the ‘Coaching Professional Level 5 Apprenticeship’ through professional coaching firm, The OCM.

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This apprenticeship involves 308 guided learning hours over 14 months, which can be delivered virtually. It is aimed at employees from various roles within an organisation if they function as an internal coach and/or deliver coaching in support of the organisations coaching and mentoring strategy.

Lisa said: “I had been coaching for a very long time, but I wanted the framework and theoretical support that went along with it. I would say I was quite an instinctive, natural coach but that was how I had conversations, and I wanted to formalise that to give myself the confidence that comes with understanding some of the theoretical background.”

“I was very lucky I had a very supportive line manager who understood apprenticeships and that time needs to be allowed for it in the working week. I was quite rigorous with myself for putting that time aside into my calendar every week.”

Following the programme, Lisa is now a qualified coach and is using her skills at work. She said: “I have learnt a great deal about myself. As you coach others, you also coach yourself. Whereas I used to tend to help people and provide answers for them, now I’ve have got much better at waiting and not being afraid of silence when I am talking to people.

“The apprenticeship has benefited the people I work with as I have coached one-on-one and coached teams to improve performance. The apprenticeship was completed a while ago but I still coach and recently led coaching sessions with women in the business, as part of a project to promote career opportunities and self-development.”

Lisa adds: “Through the apprenticeship I have found what I was born to do, and I found it so fulfilling it was a real game changer for me. The course has given me an edge and has helped to maximise the value of conversations at work, whether it is in a formal coaching relationship or just a 10-minute call with somebody.”

Apprenticeships are a powerful on the job training and development tool. Globally different countries will have their own system for apprenticeships[3] but the principle remains the same. They support employees to progress and thrive within an organisation. For banking and financial firms seeking to upskill their workforce and attract talent in 2024, apprenticeships can be an excellent strategic solution.





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