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Senior Leader Higher Apprenticeship

Leadership development for senior managers is often problematic in terms of resource, but a new higher apprenticeship offers an innovative approach to resolving this.

Apprenticeship funding for postgraduate education in leadership and management has allowed key organisations across all sectors of the economy to develop their managerial capabilities. Indeed apprenticeships have offered truly transformational opportunities to those mid-career learners who might otherwise have lacked the time and the financial resources to pursue a part-time Master of Business Administration (MBA) qualification. However, the challenges presented by managing formal academic assessments, and building an apprenticeship portfolio, while fulfilling a senior management role have meant that to date, leadership apprenticeships have been frankly just too difficult for many.

Following a change to the senior leadership apprenticeship standard, Newcastle Business School has developed a new and genuinely distinctive Senior Leader Higher Apprenticeship (SLHA). This apprenticeship offers a number of truly useful and distinctive innovations. It dispenses with the traditional forms of academic assessment, offers a pathway to the Newcastle Business School MBA and yet still utilises the support of Skills Funding Agency Levy funding. Furthermore, the Newcastle Business School provides widening participation opportunities. It offers an entry point to postgraduate education for those without previous higher education experience, and so enables those without a degree qualification to study at a level commensurate with their leadership experience.

Dr. Helen Charlton, Director of Education for Leadership and HRM Apprenticeships within Newcastle Business School explained why the University had chosen this new approach: ‘We were aware that the apprentices on our existing postgraduate programmes truly value the opportunity to secure the MBA, which is, of course, the internationally recognised qualification in business and management. And yet we recognised that our apprentices, despite having 20% of their working time set aside for off-the-job training, really struggled to complete their academic assessments, while developing the portfolio of learning that is required for the apprenticeship qualification. We decided therefore that we would use the change to the funding regime as an opportunity to engineer a positive transformation in learner experience. We dispensed with academic assessments and developed a workshop-based programme which maps to the new apprenticeship and to the benchmark statements associated with the MBA qualification. This workshop-based approach allows us to widen participation while maintaining a route to the MBA qualification. We feel it is a genuinely radical and productive innovation’.

The programme which launched in September 2021 currently has 35 participants drawn from the public, private and the ‘third sector’ of the economy. The model operates on a periodic block-delivery model, meaning participants meet two days a month on campus from 09:30 – 16:30, with allowances for childcare commitments during school holidays. This format has proven so successful, and so popular with students and their employers, that it has been used to develop a Senior People Professional Higher Apprenticeship, leading to Chartered CIPD status, which will be launched in early 2023.  

To find out more about Senior Leader Higher Apprenticeship visit our course page here and to learn more about apprenticeships offered by Newcastle Business School click here and watch the video below.

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