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Senior People Professional Higher Apprenticeship

Northumbria University launches its innovative, workplace-based, Senior People Professional Higher Apprenticeship to help the HR profession tackle contemporary workplace challenges whilst drawing on government funding.

Senior people professionals are required to get the best from employees through developing and implementing people practices that will enhance the organization’s performance and effectiveness by creating the right culture and working environment. This now, more than ever, is a key focus for HR and senior leadership teams.

Northumbria University has recently launched a new Senior People Professional (SPP) Higher Apprenticeship to support Human Resource experts in their career development, and their organizations to be better placed to meet these challenges. Working alongside organizations and HR practitioners, academics at Newcastle Business School have designed a new 24-month course that aims to deliver an innovative work-based programme on a part-time, flexible and blended delivery pattern, providing an excellent learning and development platform for aspiring or existing senior managers and leaders.

Higher Apprenticeships enable you to transform your business performance while simultaneously being a cost-effective solution for employers and Learners to acquire the latest higher-level industry skills and knowledge. Our SPP is a structured learning programme that combines workplace training with study, based on the highly successful Senior Leader Higher Apprenticeship that we already offer. As Higher Apprenticeships are tailored to specific job roles, they enable employees to develop the skills and knowledge that they need to progress in an existing role or transition into a new one. Northumbria’s new SPP allows businesses to invest in their HR employees, growing talent in their workforce that’s tailored to business needs. A recent survey conducted by revealed that Human Resources & Staffing were the third most sought-after roles in the UK, highlighting the potential for not just the profession but businesses.

Dr. Emma Thirkell, Programme Leader, said “business is a challenging environment at the moment, and traditional MA or MSc programmes are becoming increasingly difficult for organizations to justify their spending on – especially when it is hard to see that return on investment in the work environment. Our SPP Higher Apprenticeship allows employers, both small and large, to draw on the Apprenticeship Levy and benefits from being work-based to deliver real value for organizations. By accessing levy payments or government funding, businesses can provide their human resource professionals with a recognized and relevant qualification, often at little extra cost to the organization.”

Importantly, the SPP Higher Apprenticeship provides a route to CIPD Chartered Member status. Upon completion, and passing the apprenticeship, Learners may choose the CIPD as their End Point Assessment Organisation (EPAO), or any other appropriate EPAO at that time.  This is distinctive to what is currently offered on traditional MA/MSc courses, in addition to the programme providing the option to specialize in one of three areas – The HR Professional, Learning & Development, or Organisational Development. Notably, there are no 3,000-word assignments or exams; between university sessions, Learners undertake independent study and compile a portfolio of evidence demonstrating the application of knowledge, skills, and behaviours within the apprenticeship standard.

Eighteen topics will be explored throughout the 24 months including Strategic HR Futures, Contemporary Work Design, Organisational Change Strategies, and Organisational Psychology. This will be supported by Workplace Coaches who encourage portfolio development via Progress Reviews, alongside academic and practitioner experts who deliver engaging workplace-focused content. “This is not ‘chalk and talk’ theory-driven learning”, Emma says. “This is real-life, practical application and discussion of key HR themes supported by HR Practitioners, masterclasses, and peer learning”. The programme also leads to a Postgraduate Diploma (Senior People Professional), which is a Level 7 qualification on successful completion.

“One thing that we realize at Northumbria University, is that studying, alongside working, is challenging and sometimes stressful. It is also a barrier for some to progress their studies and careers. That is why our SPP programme only requires 2 days a month on campus (a third Programme Day will be scheduled every 3 months) and works around school holidays to be as accessible and inclusive as possible for Learners”, Emma concludes.

Alongside a wide range of leadership and management training and CPD courses, Northumbria University also has a strong track record in delivering Higher and Degree Apprenticeships as a route to developing technical skills within the workforce.

By offering learners the best of both worlds, combining university study with workplace learning, Northumbria University is recognized as a leading provider, ranking top 10 in the UK for Higher and Degree Apprenticeships (The Times Good University Guide, 2022) as well as being one of the first UK institutions to offer government supported apprenticeship programmes.

Dr. Helen Charlton, Director of Education for Apprenticeships in LHRM, said “the Senior People Professional programme builds on the very successful model for our Senior Leader apprenticeship, which employers have described as having ‘exceeded expectations’, offering learners ‘access to a wealth of knowledge’”. Helen adds that “this model helps support learners while having measurable impact in the workplace from an early stage, and we’re delighted to be able to expand this into the HRM & D remit”.

To find out more about the Senior People Professional Higher Apprenticeship at Northumbria University, visit our page here and watch the video below. 


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