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Degree apprenticeships boosting D&I

While degree apprenticeships bring challenges they play an important role in boosting diversity in the workplace, said speakers at a Chartered Management Institute (CMI) event

“Degree apprenticeships should be celebrated and supported because they really are a success story,” said Greg Wade, policy manager at Universities UK, speaking at the event in the House of Commons.

“Too often apprenticeships are spoken about as if they are a problem, or a challenge in policy terms, and that’s really unfortunate.”

Wade shared how many organisations, including the Metropolitan Police, have improved diversity and inclusion because of their degree apprenticeships.

“Yesterday the Metropolitan Police stated that getting a workforce to represent London could take decades. But one team in the force I spoke to said that recruitment from the degree apprenticeship route has boosted their BAME workforce from 7% or 8% to 11% or 12%, while female recruits went from 30% to 50%, and more than half were the first in their families to enter higher education,” he said.

To coincide with the third anniversary of the introduction of chartered manager degree apprenticeships, the CMI published research showing that more than 40% of people undertaking degree apprenticeships came from some of the most deprived areas in the UK. The research also found that there were more female apprentices (54%) than male (47%).

Wade went on to advise that, as work continues to change, there is a need for greater collaboration between educators and employers.

“As we approach the fourth industrial revolution there is a need to engage the workforce. We know that we need educators and universities to work closer with employers, we need learners who think more like employees, and employees who think more like learners,” he said.

However, Wade acknowledged that there are some challenges with degree apprenticeships: “We still need to make sure that there is adequate funding, that the value of the degree apprenticeship is recognised, that it is valued by employers as a quality standard, and that it remains attractive to apprentices. We need greater transparency and decision-making, and a greater understanding of the university system.”

Also speaking at the event, Rob Wall, head of policy at the CMI, added: “The UK needs good managers and great leaders – now more than ever. Today’s chartered manager degree apprentices are tomorrow’s senior civil servants, top business leaders and key influencers. If we are to equip all of our future managers with the skills to be confident competent leaders than we need to accelerate investment in management development and in management apprenticeships."

In October 2018 chancellor Philip Hammond announced that the government would be investing in management skills and modifying the apprenticeship levy to allow large employers to transfer up to 25% of their funds to businesses in their supply chain, to boost UK productivity.