Kim McLellan, Managing Director of Hunterlodge, talks Degree Apprenticeships.
We are all well aware of the government’s agenda to drive more vocational training into the workplace, but are HEI’s prepared for its impact? And how do they stop it cannibalising existing recruitment targets and use it as a source for growth? Although there is no quick and easy solution, there are steps HEI’s should be taking in order to maximise the opportunity and ensure their offering is fit for purpose.
The Apprenticeship Levy is a government programme aimed at boosting the UK’s productivity and competitiveness by investing in skills development. This means not just the technical skills traditionally associated with apprenticeships but also high-level executive and management training. Funding is not just available for entry level 3, 4 and 5, but is now available up to levels 6 and 7 (BA and Masters).
However, many challenges are already starting to appear. Are businesses ready for it? Were they given enough warning and support? Can they identify enough people to train and move fast enough? Can those employees be productive on 4 days a week in their role? Have education establishments got their portfolios fit for purpose in order to make a difference? What does this mean for traditional undergraduate and postgraduate recruitment? Is this not just a way of getting businesses to fund the bill of education? If this a widening participation initiative, how does this actually help as it is not aimed at the disadvantaged at all? The questions go on and on…
Regardless of where you sit within these questions, there is going to be a considerable impact on traditional HE recruitment. Even before launch, we were seeing education supply outweigh demand and it is likely that this will add to this problem. Why? Because if you are a potential student you will be thinking ‘I need to get a job now and then get my education paid for’ thus taking the focus off going to University, and, if you’re an employer, you will be thinking ‘I need to invest in my talent to make sure I maximise the tax that is being enforced on me’. So, will we see a trend that means that the route to education is in fact less direct – rather than school to University, it will be school to job to University – and will this have an impact on course portfolio and recruitment targets as both the portfolio and talent has to align with business needs?
I think three things are crystal clear for HEI’s to ensure you protect yourselves against this: build your employer engagement and alignment – both in terms of quality and quantity; improve the agility of your organisation and its ability to bespoke offerings, and clearly articulate how you can help them – through your brand (ethos, culture, values and essence), course portfolio and soft skills, but more so by becoming an indispensable partner that demonstrates how talent drives the success of their organisation.