How can you engage your managers with professional apprenticeship training? Cirrus head of engagement Jenny Perkins offers some top tips.

The UK Apprenticeship Levy can be used to offer government-subsidised learning to colleagues across your entire organisation. This includes leaders and managers, who can benefit from management apprenticeships. How can you engage senior people for whom the word ‘apprenticeship’ may be off-putting?

1. Lead from the front. Senior leaders will be instrumental in engaging everyone across the business with the big ‘why’ of apprenticeship training.  Authentic communication from the top, which lays out the organisational and individual benefits will require early involvement with the C-suite, who should miss no opportunity to visibly support the programme.

2. The line manager is critical. Support from a line manager or team leader will make all the difference between the success and failure of the both the individual learner and the whole apprenticeship training experience.  Managers need a detailed briefing which clearly outlines the benefits for them in supporting the achievement of their team’s goals as well as clarity about what’s expected of them throughout the programme.

3. Make it aspirational. Don’t shy away from the misconception that apprenticeship training is only relevant for early careers.  Embrace it and explain why professional apprenticeships are relevant and valuable for every career stage. Find ways to make this kind of supported and important learning, which leads to a recognised qualification – something people aspire to take part in.

4. What’s in it for me? Outline the benefits to individuals about a portable development programme which they can take with them wherever their career takes them and which will equip them for future success within their current role and organisation as well as beyond.  The millennial generation are not looking for careers for life but a professional apprenticeship enables them to contribute today and tomorrow.

5. Be clear about what’s involved and what’s expected. Lay out the learning journey in a simple and accessible way so that learners can understand the road map and don’t fall at the inevitable hurdles and setbacks they will meet along the way.  A straightforward guide to apprenticeship training which recognises the challenges as well as the benefits will further develop the aspirational element of the programme.

6. Harness the power of peer support. Create champions and ambassadors as you develop your apprenticeship training programme.  People at every level who can tell positive stories about their own experiences and support others by showing how they overcame any barriers or doubts will contribute to successful completion rates and support the gathering of success stories and experience sharing.

7. Keep messaging regular and consistent. Avoid kicking off the programme with a huge fanfare and then never mentioning it again.  Learners, line managers and the entire organisation need to be in it for the long term, so create a communications plan which recognises all the key milestones and build the drum beat throughout the programme with regular messages, newsletters, feedback, and storytelling.

8. Maximise the virtual connections. In a connected, digital world people expect virtual delivery and communication to form a major part of any programme experience.  Underpin apprenticeship training with a digital platform, which not only supports learning delivery, but engages participants by creating a community for sharing experiences, asking questions, and providing in the moment feedback.

9. Make it relevant. To qualify for funding and to get the best out of a programme, apprentices need to spend 20% of their time at work on relevant activities.  This doesn’t mean being away from the office in face to face training one day a week.  Build projects and challenges over the length of the programme which complement the day job, benefitting both the learner and the organisation, providing stretch for the future but also enriching the current role.

10. Celebrate success. Graduation ceremonies and awards develop future aspirations and are widely recognised as a great motivator.  However, don’t wait until the end of a programme to celebrate.  Recognise milestones along the way, gather success stories and communicate regularly.  A simple ‘well done’ from a leader can be worth a great deal and costs nothing.

Discover more about apprenticeship training at Cirrus.

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