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Seven Senior Leader Apprenticeship Myths Debunked

Senior leader apprenticeships are highly valuable for both individuals and organisations, ensuring a rigorous standard that helps managers and leaders and builds sustainable, profitable businesses. A common reason that stops people undertaking senior leadership apprenticeships is the many misconceptions that surround them. So, here are seven senior leader apprenticeship myths debunked…

I’ll have to take a day out of work a week to study

This is one of the biggest myths surrounding apprenticeships. As part of the levy funding rules, your employer is required to commit to giving you a minimum of six hours per week of your standard working hours “off-the-job” to study, however, this can be managed flexibly over the duration of the programme – it doesn’t need to be the same amount of time each week. The “off-the-job” learning is made up of a number of activities that you’ll undertake over the course of your apprenticeship. Throughout the 18 months studying on our Senior Leader Apprenticeship programme, you’ll attend six workshops, which contribute a large amount towards the "off the job" learning commitment. 

I can complete the apprenticeship in my spare time

Our Senior Leader Apprenticeship programme, is designed to be work-based and will be completed during working hours.

I’m so busy with work, I’ll never have the time

We understand that as a senior leader, you’ll be busy with work, and it might feel that you don’t have the time to complete an apprenticeship programme. As we mentioned above, the 6 hours minimum “off-the-job” learning can be managed flexibly throughout the duration of the programme, so you won’t be required to take time out of work at the same time every week. You could also think about any tasks that you can delegate to members of your team, focusing your time and upskilling them as well.

You have to have a university degree to apply

The only qualifications that are required for admission onto our senior leader apprenticeship programme are GCSE English Language and Maths (A*-C). It is a requirement of the ESFA apprenticeship rules that you achieve these either before or by the end of your apprenticeship. You will also be required to show proof of these qualifications.

If you don’t have a GCSE (A*-C) in English Language and Maths, this doesn’t mean you won’t be accepted onto the programme. Alliance MBS will support you to complete a Functional Skills Level 2 qualification, equivalent to the required GCSEs, whilst on the programme. The fees for this course are included in the cost of the apprenticeship.

There are also some admissions criteria that you will need to meet to be accepted on the programme:

• First or Upper Second-class honours degree (2:1), three years of management experience (with strong and consistent career progression and achievement), plus an interview with the programme director.


• Five years’ management experience (with strong and consistent career progression and achievement), plus an interview with the programme director.

I’m a leader, not an apprentice

In 2018, the government broadened its scope of the Apprenticeship Levy by launching Level 7 senior leader apprenticeships. The Level 7 standard was developed by end point assessors, university partners and leading employers, ensuring a rigorous standard that helps managers and leaders and builds sustainable, profitable businesses. Level 7 apprenticeships are designed for strategic leaders in the private, public and third sector who are responsible for delivering results. Our Senior Leader Apprenticeship programme has been specifically designed to align closely with the day-to-day roles of senior leaders, underpinning your working practice with a solid understanding of contemporary management and leadership theory.

An apprenticeship isn’t a serious qualification

It’s another common myth that apprenticeships are “not real-qualifications” and that they are generally completed by young people who are just leaving school. Apprenticeships are a highly valued framework of education and training, and are not only valued by employers, but by delegates themselves who gain industry knowledge and skills within a recognised framework.

It’s all down to me, my employer has nothing to do with it

During the course of the programme, you’ll receive support from both the university and your employer. As an apprentice learner on our Senior Leader Apprenticeship programme, you’ll be required to nominate a work-based mentor who will support you throughout the programme and expose you to work that will enhance your learning on the course. Your work-based mentor might be your line manager or another senior leader within your organisation that has a good knowledge of you and your role. As the senior leader apprenticeship is very much a work-based programme, there needs to be just as much commitment from your line manager as there is from yourself, so throughout your studies, it’s important to keep an open line of communication with them about your learning and development needs, and the level of support you require to complete the programme.

Blog posts give the views of the author, and are not necessarily those of Alliance Manchester Business School and The University of Manchester.

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