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Will apprenticeships impact the Built Environment sector?

Stephen Bartle, Head of Commercial and Business Development at UCEM, explains how apprenticeships will evolve in 2018

Posted by Lucinda Reid | January 18, 2018 | People, policy, politics, money

2017 was a year of change for apprenticeships in the UK, in large part thanks to the Apprenticeship Levy implemented in May. Since then, there has been a recognised increase in the awareness of apprenticeships and the opportunities they bring.

However, there is still a bias against vocational education in the UK. Apprenticeships are often viewed as an inferior career choice, rather than an effective route to work experience and skills, qualifications and employment. There is still the perception that apprenticeships are only for school leavers at entry level, who have no other option. YouGov survey found only seven per cent of 18-24-year-olds considered apprenticeships right for them, compared with 68 per cent who rated traditional higher education the best option.

This year, we have launched a Senior Leader Master’s Degree Apprenticeship – targeted at those in senior and strategic leadership roles who want to develop their knowledge and skills set. On the programme, apprentices study our accredited MBA in Construction and Real Estate and enhance management skills within the workplace. And on completion, apprentices also achieve Chartered Member or Chartered Fellow status awarded by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI). This is a landmark shift in the evolution of apprenticeships and means that for the first time programmes will be available which enable individuals to acquire the skills, knowledge and behaviours to contribute to the leadership of their organisations. This could be game-changing for education in terms of defining who apprenticeships are for and what they can bring to industry.

The Built Environment will need to nurture talented people with the potential to progress all the way to - and enter at - board level, so they can provide their organisations with the resilience to deal with future challenges

So how will these Master’s degree apprenticeships make a difference? Individuals will benefit from an integrated programme supported by their employer, which includes an MBA or other Master’s degree leading to Chartered status - opening up new opportunities for career progression. For employers, the driver will be to secure greater value from the Apprenticeship Levy; accelerating the development of their middle and senior managers so they can contribute more to the success of the business.

As the UK’s productivity lags further behind our main competitors, our economy will need more senior leaders who can deal with issues such as managing innovation and culture change, formulating and executing competitive strategy, and motivating and developing high performing teams. For the Built Environment sector, in particular, the introduction of apprenticeships could be a turning point for the current skills crisis.

There is a significant need for skills within the sector at all levels, and the gaps aren’t restricted to technical roles. The Built Environment will need to nurture talented people with the potential to progress all the way to - and enter at - board level, so they can provide their organisations with the resilience to deal with future challenges.

With a landmark shift in the evolution of apprenticeships in 2017, how can apprenticeships evolve for the rest of 2018 and beyond? This year, we hope apprentices studying postgraduate degrees will challenge perceptions of what an apprenticeship is and who it is for. We look forward to seeing how our leadership apprenticeship programme - tailored to the needs of the Built Environment - will help to equip the future leaders of our sector with the required skills to meet the challenges that lie ahead, aid the talent shortage, and help shift the perception of apprenticeships. 

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