Apprenticeships, but not as you know them

James Kelly, co-founder and CEO of Corndel, explains how apprenticeships work at Capita, BP, and Standard Chartered
James Kelly
An apprentice engineer

The term ‘apprenticeships’ is one that often gets misunderstood, or even derided. Some believe that they are still the preserve of solely manual occupations, whereas others see them as merely a way to employ young people at a cut rate. 

Both views are out of touch with the type and scope of apprenticeships that are available today. Instead, they are both the pathway to a professional career and a key tool for businesses looking to change, grow and diversify their business model while creating the leaders of tomorrow. Reskilling and investment in people is critical in an environment where technological advances can change the face of work year-by-year. The culture shocks caused by innovations like the rise of generative AI, such as Chat GPT, will hit the unprepared and inflexible hardest, whereas those who are able to keep on top of change and pivot towards its advantages will thrive.

One sector that has recognised the value of apprenticeships is financial services. According to research by the Professional and Business Services Council and the Financial Services Skills Commission, the industry had been facing significant skills gaps, due to accelerating automation, changing demographics, digitalisation and globalisation. This report estimates that plugging these skills gaps could increase annual output across the sector by 12% by 2038, which is equivalent to £38bn in turnover. 

Management teams in both leading professional and financial services organisations have strategically used the apprenticeship levy to address skills gaps, with learning and development teams successfully driving digital transformation, increasing diversity and empowering senior leaders to drive business performance.

Standard Chartered upskilled teams with a data analytics apprenticeship programme, offering a chance to go from working with data to becoming adept at analytics as part of a level 4 programme. This saved time in-house as well as giving the teams greater opportunity in the future, all while plugging skills gaps and future-proofing the business. 

Capita is another organisation that formed a relationship with Corndel which has delivered resounding success, with nearly 600 employees joining the leadership and management programmes. The personalised one-to-one coaching, a feature of all Corndel courses, has been instrumental in helping aspiring and existing managers adopt new approaches and grow into confident leaders. The success of the partnership led Capita to take advantage of the project management and DevOps engineering apprenticeship offerings.

Individual learners have benefited greatly from the programme, with many taking on more responsibility within their roles and earning promotions. For example, one member of Capita staff cited the support of their Professional Development Expert coach as pivotal in their advancement into leadership.

Capita is a great example of a large organisation with an array of different divisions and job roles where our model allows us to take a situational, learner-led approach. We can develop a deep understanding of how the individual’s goals align with both the vision of that particular division as well as with Capita’s wider vision. 

“This programme has made me become a better leader. I can help people grow developmentally, use active listening and be more empathetic in my leadership, ensuring I carry people along in everything I do,” says Adebimpe Makinde, Lead Business Analyst Manager at Capita. “The skills I have honed on this programme are influencing and negotiating; both are key if you want to affect change and have your voice heard, especially when people have different opinions and views."

The huge success of such programmes draws heavily on our ability to work at such a granular level, flexing the learning material to resonate with individual learners and for each business as its aims and needs require. Our attention to detail and understanding of the business landscape, through horizon-scanning and our own commissioned research, means we stay ahead of the game so that our clients and partners can too. 

Energy giant BP has also enrolled nearly 200 UK staff onto a Corndel Data apprenticeship, with impressive results – their learners are now using available technologies to work more efficiently, productively and innovatively. Likewise, Asda has worked closely with Corndel to create its data-led culture centred on investing in the learning and development of their employees and giving all Asda colleagues the chance to advance. 

This means that staff can improve their day-to-day efficiency, while inspiring the team around them as they save time and cost. Improved efficiency with greater job satisfaction and improved skill set can only be a win as businesses seek to both beat the skills gap and the competition for staff in terms of retention and recruitment. One learner commented: I’ve been able to take what I’ve learned on the programme and help influence and teach other people in my team, how to better store data, how to better structure our data, and ultimately, how to enrich it.”

The apprenticeship has come a long way in recent years and is now a near-essential tool for businesses that are looking forward and looking to lead rather than just attempt to keep up with the competition. It is the smart option for smart businesses looking to invest in their future, their people and their continued advancement. 

Written by
James Kelly
Written by
May 19, 2023