Re-building the post pandemic workforce

Judith Parsons, Academic Director for Hult Ashridge Level 4 and 5 apprenticeships, shares her views on how apprenticeships can be a powerful learning & development strategy for businesses building back after a recession.

Judith Parsons
Professor of Practice: Leadership and Management
Practice Lead: Healthcare
Faculty, Consultant and Coach

Post recessionary recovery often proves to be a time of confusion and paradox. More often than not rising business and consumer confidence sits uncomfortably alongside further job losses as businesses re-structure and rapidly rising levels of skill shortage and hard to fill vacancies.

The current recovery, whilst still at an early and fragile stage, looks to be following an all too familiar pattern. In recent months the major consultancies, think tanks and policy houses have been reporting the growing evidence base for clusters of skill deficit and shortages of qualified staff that threaten growth and workforce sustainability. Further, calling for early and concerted action by government, employers and business representatives working together to find creative solutions.

A picture of more gloom and doom?  Not necessarily. For employers who think strategically creatively this is a time of opportunity where they can make quantum leap progress toward modernising their workforce and translating some of their key employment policies into reality.

And, this is an area where apprenticeships, used skilfully, can be a powerful strategic opportunity that also makes total economic sense given the automatic levy that many employers now accrue

Apprenticeships are not new – everyone knows that. But they are still associated with post 16-year-olds pursuing a vocational career route after leaving school. Many organisations are not aware of the higher-level apprenticeships targeting experienced adults in the workplace and providing access into professional areas including project management, HR and leadership.

These apprenticeships operate at Levels 4 through to 7 and open up access to highly skilled roles with parallel accreditation through bodies such as the Institute of Project Management, CIM, ILM and CIPD.

Take for example, the Level 5 Operations Manager apprenticeship which we offer at Hult Ashridge. This is a new offer - and one which we are consciously adding to our established portfolio of apprenticeships because of the value we know it brings.

Middle management are critical to success

The Level 5 apprenticeship is built around 3 core themes of Interpersonal excellence, Process and Performance; providing a rounded development for existing or aspiring middle managers.

People in this middle ground in the organisation are much more critical to success than is often recognised – they hold significant operational portfolios, are the key to translating strategic priorities into reality and are the most important influence on morale, engagement and talent development at their local level.

And yet they don’t necessarily have access to the depth of development that would support them to be as effective as they can be. A level 5 apprenticeship provides them with an extended period of development and professional certification which is a great investment in the here and now and a platform for transition to more senior roles.