With employers calling for better prepared and more highly-skilled managers, school leavers and graduates alike should consider the benefits of earning while they learn with a management apprenticeship

According to recent research published by the Intergenerational Foundation, graduates can no longer bank on a traditional degree for greater lifetime earnings. In contrast, a 2015 report from The Sutton Trust has found those undertaking a degree apprenticeship can expect to earn £50,000 more over the course of their career, compared to graduates from non-Russell Group universities.

Apprenticeship programmes such as the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship - in partnership with leading employers - are becoming attractive options for students and graduates wanting the best of both worlds. On such a scheme apprentices gain a degree, real work experience and professional accreditation to add to their CV, and kick-start their career in management.

The UK needs an additional one million managers by 2020 so unsurprisingly the skills, experience and qualifications gained on management apprenticeship programmes are in high demand

Why choose a management apprenticeship?

Graduates have several routes available to them on completion of their degree, so what value does a management apprenticeship offer above and beyond a graduate scheme or moving straight into employment?

CMI's 2014 21st Century Leaders report highlighted employers' concerns about the workplace readiness of graduates, with 65% saying that graduates lack the interpersonal skills necessary to manage people. This, alongside other CMI research, which revealed that 71% of firms fail to offer management training to first-time managers, creates more pressure for graduates to either look for employers that offer professional training or look to undertake accredited courses themselves.

Management apprenticeships not only equip apprentices with the skills employers want, they also enable them to gain professional qualifications that will be attractive for future employers. With CMI's 2016 An Age of Uncertainty research revealing that 63% of young people would like to lead a team, management apprenticeships are an effective route to achieving this.

What do management apprenticeships involve?

The CMI offer three management apprenticeships, including:

  • Level 3 Team Leader/Supervisor Apprenticeship;
  • Level 5 Operations/Departmental Manager Apprenticeship;
  • Level 6 Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship.

These management apprenticeships provide an attractive route to employment, allowing graduates earn while they learn and gain professional management qualifications.

The Team Leader/Supervisor (Level 3) and Operations/Departmental Manager (Level 5) apprenticeships last between 18 months and two-and-a-half years and have been developed by 40 employers, led by Civil Service Learning and Serco and supported by the CMI. These programmes provide professional qualifications for team leader and operations manager roles and give apprentices a broad range of practical skills and opportunities for progression.

The Level 3 and 5 apprenticeships also provide a bridge to management careers for graduates from other disciplines. If, for example, you studied engineering or geography but want to progress into a middle-management role, you can gain entry to the profession by undertaking an Operations/Departmental Manager apprenticeship, which enables you to enter the workplace at managerial level, providing you with the skills and knowledge you need to operate in that role.

The Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship takes four years to complete and combines a high-level apprenticeship involving hands-on workplace learning with a world-class university degree and professional development through to Chartered Manager status.

This apprenticeship is suitable for ambitious school leavers, who are looking for a fast-track route into a management position, or graduates already in the workplace looking for a progression pathway into management.

Management apprenticeships combine off-the-job-training (distance learning, online learning or offsite training), development activities and on-the-job training. Development covers skills, knowledge and behaviours in areas such as managing people and teams, managing projects and risk, leading change and effective communication.

Apprentices are employed by their organisation and need to deliver in their day jobs, while also spending at least 20% of their time on training activities.

What do employers think?

The UK needs an additional one million managers by 2020 so unsurprisingly the skills, experience and qualifications gained on management apprenticeship programmes are in high demand.

In partnership with the CMI, apprenticeships are already being delivered by a number of top employers including Barclays, Boots, Pizza Hut, Serco and a range of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Nestlé was among the first to start its own Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship (CMDA) scheme. Dame Fiona Kendrick, Chairman and CEO of Nestlé UK and Ireland said of the programme, 'CMDA forms part of our commitment to growing and developing future business leaders, and offers an alternative entry point to a career in management for young, talented school leavers.'

'The combination of practical, commercial experience at Nestlé and the academic excellence at Sheffield Hallam University is giving young people the skills that they need to become business leaders of the future.'

How do I become a management apprentice?

The first step to becoming a management apprentice is finding an employer. There are many large employers currently advertising apprenticeship opportunities, including Barclays, Boots and Nestlé.

Employers set the entry requirements for a particular apprenticeship, so check carefully with them before applying.

Generally for Level 3 apprenticeships no previous qualifications are needed. For Level 5 opportunities you'll need five GCSEs and for Level 6 Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeships you'll need to hold A-level qualifications.

The majority of applications are made online, by first registering your interest with your preferred employer. It's likely that you'll then fill out an application form, undergo numerical and/or situational judgement tests and attend an assessment centre.

Alternatively you can find apprenticeship opportunities through recruitment agencies, Apprenticeship Training Associations, the National Apprenticeship Service or UCAS.

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