Niro Sritharan is Leadership and Management Lead at Premier Partnership.

As part of my role at Premier Partnership, I travel up and down the UK speaking with organisations to inform, understand and offer guidance on their leadership and management development strategies. This is becoming an increasingly significant element of corporate strategies as organisations realise the importance of having highly skilled and effective managers. As part of our place on the North Eastern Universities Purchasing Consortium (NEUPC) Managed Services Framework, this has led to a number of discussions with Higher Education organisations who are keen to maximise their Apprenticeship Levy as a method for funding the development of their managers.

Some of the challenges they seem to be facing are as you would expect – from 20% ‘off the job’ training, to convincing managers that an apprenticeship programme is an appropriate route to develop effective leadership and management skills. The one issue HE organisations face that is unique to them however is the cultural difference between academic leaders and non-academic leaders.

The introduction of degree apprenticeships

However, the introduction of degree level apprenticeships seems to be something that is gaining interest as the opportunity to become a degree level manager and to become Chartered is far more appealing than the NVQs offered previously on apprenticeship frameworks. This could be a way around some of the challenges being faced, particularly as most universities look for a degree level qualification as a pre-requisite for their management positions.

Last week, Ken Kane (Premier Partnership’s Commercial Director) and I were invited to speak at the London School of Economics Career Pathway Conference to talk about our experience and learnings with the Apprenticeship Levy as a leading training provider. The event was attended by over 50 representatives from a wide array of HE organisations and we were there to provide our own insights into using the apprenticeship standards for leadership and management as a way to maximise Levy funds in order to develop managers.

Our presentation first tackled the common challenges or perceptions we hear from employers in relation to apprenticeships and how we overcome these objections. We then provided some facts and figures around why organisations should invest in the development of managers due to a considerable management skills shortage in the UK. Finally, we sought to highlight to key benefits of doing this; I have provided some of those facts below for your information. Although we did not have time for questions, I got the sense from the room that they were in agreement with us and there seems to be an appetite for further discussion with some of the organisations present.

Leadership and Management skills: The facts

  • Benefits of upskilling your managers – expands the talent pool, creates a culture for learning, increased motivation and engagement, increased productivity.
  • 2 in 5 Managers are concerned about under-investment in their development.
  • 81% of employers are not yet aware that the Apprenticeship Levy can be used to upskill managers at all levels of the organisation.
  • 48% of employers do expect the number of new apprentices to rise over the next year.

Choosing an apprenticeship training provider

Premier Partnership is on the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers approved to deliver Level 3 Team Leader/Supervisor and Level 5 Operations/Departmental Manager apprenticeship standards. We have responded to the market and have created delivery models which meet the standards, incorporate the learning required to meet the assessment criteria for accredited programmes and are blended in such a way that learning opportunities take place using multiple media including webinars, e-learning and reflective exercises following tasks in the workplace. Clients have told us that bitesize, focused learning is important, so we have made sure all of our workshops can be delivered as a standalone two hour sessions or mixed with other sessions to form half or one-day module. We also provide a Virtual Learning platform via Moodle for learners to access a whole range of learning tools which support their ‘off the job’ learning requirements, as well as a dedicated Leadership and Management Programme tutor who will work with learners for the duration of the programme to ensure they are ready to complete their End Point Assessment.

To run a successful apprenticeship program, we recommend the following best practice advice:

  • Don’t plug and play – Make sure the programme you design is tailored to your organisation. An off the shelf delivery plan will provide generic skills and knowledge in leadership and management but will miss the nuances that are important to managers in your organisation.
  • Use your existing content – If it’s not broken, don’t fix it. Most organisations have existing materials for training which cover the key learning required as part of the standards, so you should try to build these into the learner journey.
  • Work in partnership with the training provider – From project scoping, to implementation, right through to delivery, partnership working with the provider is fundamental. Ensure the selected provider is chosen because they fit and are aligned to your organisation’s principles, values and commitment to achieving your overall strategic outcomes.
  • Make it feel like ‘your programme’ – In designing the programme you should also consider the look and feel. Branding and language are important so that learners feel like it is your programme.
  • Include the right stakeholders – To get buy in and ensure the content is fit for purpose, including the right stakeholders is essential to the success of the programme. Line managers need to know the impact, senior leaders need to back and support the programme, and subject matter experts should be included when it concerns their area of responsibility.
  • Do it for the right reasons – Are you doing this just to use your Levy funds, or is there a genuine development need to upskill managers?


To request a copy of the full presentation or talk to our team about leadership and management training and apprenticeships, contact us.