Serco blog: Degree apprenticeships to help address skills gap

CCN Blogs | 19 October 2017

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The changing nature of work is placing new and diverse demands on managers. Research suggests that this evolution is creating a management and leadership skills gap as employers try to adapt to new technologies, globalisation, diverse workforces and new working practices.

Today’s manager needs access to training to update skills in order that they continue to lead effectively. In local government where change is commonplace and roles and structure often fluid, training and development is key to enable management to adapt, deliver quality and develop in their own careers.

Serco are pioneers in the development and delivery of higher level apprenticeships to address management skills gaps within our own workforce. Our Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship (CMDA), part of a comprehensive leadership and management pathway, is already supporting more than 100 managers in Serco to update and develop key skills. Serco work with University partners and chaired the original employer Trailblazer Group which designed the CMDA Standard.

Ema Lee, Senior Business and Performance Analyst for Serco’s Lincolnshire County Council contract is in one of the first cohorts to start the CMDA in 2017.

She said: “Leaving College and going straight into full time employment at Lincolnshire County Council, I missed out on the chance to continue my education at University. After 11 years with the Council I moved to Serco 2 years ago. It’s great that Serco are able to provide valuable training such as the CMDA. It’s is a great opportunity to develop and build on my leadership skills from strategic decision making to risk management and leading through change. Not only will it gain me a full Bachelor’s Degree (BA) I will also be a Chartered Member of the Chartered Management Institute (CMgr MCMI) and well placed to further develop my career within Serco.” 

Degree apprenticeships as a development pathway can be more appealing to employers as they allow for less time away from the day job. This in turn can be more appealing to employees who are able to incorporate learning into their working week. Successful delivery, in itself, requires careful management to ensure learning can be properly resourced – an area in which Serco have tried and tested methodology. Support from line managers alongside a flexible learning approach are key to the internal apprentice’s success. Serco’s approach provides a blend of online learning and face-to-face workshops; maximising efficiency, innovation and value for money.

Ema said “The course structure means that 20% of work time is spent on projects that support my CMDA and 80% on the day job. I’m finding that the taught elements of the course are encouraging me to reflect on the way I work day to day, to see where improvements can be made and ways in which I can improve my leadership skills. This sort of practical self-reflection in the work place combined with the theoretical elements of the apprenticeship have already led to improvements in my team. The workshop sessions, delivered by the University lecturers, are a great way to run through assignments and get an understanding of the subject. The online learning through the University portal allows you to work on weekly sessions in your own time. I would definitely recommend the course to colleagues.

Through our experience internally we are now able to provide the CMDA as an external offering to our customers. Serco works in partnership with local government throughout the UK. Our close partnership working with the sector makes us well placed to tailor our apprenticeship provision to meet the unique needs of public sector managers. We understand how to design, develop and deliver CMDA courses and offer a tried and tested approach.

If you wish to discuss Serco’s delivery of CMDA and other training opportunities please contact Chris Harrison, Business Development Director, Employment, Skills and Enterprise,