Executive DEVELOPMENT 28 | Developing Leaders Issue 27: 2017 The evolution of how the Apprenticeship scheme will evolve, propelled by the added impetus provided by the new Apprenticeship Levy, remains hazy at best. Many senior directors at university providers are getting to grips with the various moving parts of the mosaic of rules as well as the needs and appetites of the Levy-focused client base, but seeing how the various elements all mesh together is still not entirely in focus. Terry Hodgetts, Director of the Centre for Executive Education at Aston Business School, sees that much of the initial apprenticeship structure is possibly too rigid. Aston, a university rooted in its applied industrial knowledge, has been engaged with Level 6 Apprenticeships since the start. This summer they were the first provider to see a cohort graduate with apprenticeship degrees: eleven CapGemini apprentices who had completed their BSc in Digital and Technology Solutions. Aston has long tried to get engineers to be more knowledgeable about business and vice versa, and Hodgetts sees the current inability to bring in elements of the Chartered Engineer Masters into the Chartered Manager one, as they have been drafted for the Apprenticeship Level 7, as restrictive “we’d love to be able to exchange elements between the two” he says. Drew Thomas, adviser on Apprenticeship Programmes at Henley Business School, sees that providers such as Henley need to actively prepare for this new regime, citing the fact that utilising approved training providers is going to be driven as much by the Finance Director as the Learning Director in the coming years. “Why would an organization pay a business school to provide certain executive development programs for their managers, when they could cover much of such costs by recovering their Apprenticeship Levy contributions?” he asks. With many Levy paying organizations looking to recover multi-million-pound levy fees, and with Level 6 programs incorporating degrees, where the Apprenticeship funding is available up to a maximum of £27,000 per participant, offering significant impact and reward for both learners and organizations, Thomas sees that Business Schools must make the most of the opportunity to deliver for such employers and the funding that they can bring, by fully engaging in the Apprenticeship Levy. He too notes that the word Apprenticeship is confusing, describing the new regime “as really being one of ‘workforce development’, rather than a specific, traditional apprenticeship approach.” The view across the sector is that the route forward is still emerging, and will continue to evolve as both client users and providers see how the new policy operates best in practice. What is certain is that a shift in corporate leadership development spending patterns is more than likely at the higher development levels as these qualifications become better understood and the path to accessing them more normal. Could it herald the beginning of the long-discussed shift away from ‘front-loading’ academic training in people’s twenties and thirties, and towards a more balanced spreading of further education across whole careers – with all the benefits that that can bring to both individuals, organizations and society more widely?