Dr Ben Silverstone, Senior Teaching Fellow and Degree Apprenticeship Tutor – WMG, University of Warwick
With the rate at which the organisational environment changes in modern business, it can be difficult to maintain a clear view of what a businesses’ capabilities are at any given time. Financial capital, estates and equipment can be straightforward to quantify and match against a set of ongoing requirements.
However, there are a number of intangibles that can be much harder to quantify, which can play a critical role in meeting existing and future demands. Knowledge, skills and experience of those employed within a business are amongst the most important of these intangibles and identifying where to upskill and retrain staff to meet future needs is a crucial activity.
Upskilling and re-skilling
Staff development budgets are often the first victim of any austerity measures imposed upon business operations. However, it was reported recently that nearly half (48%) of employers acknowledge that apprenticeships and work-based learning initiatives will be vital to their organisation’s recovery over the next year and they acknowledged the value of investing in existing talent to fill the skills gap. (Skills shortage in the UK Economy – Edge Foundation January 2021.)
Development of existing staff, as well as enabling them to do more within their role, is also an influential component that shapes an organisation’s ability to attract and retain the brightest talents in the employment marketplace, and therefore enhance organisational capability.
Re-skilling of staff is becoming increasingly important as businesses and the roles they need are changing far quicker than ever before. Although more usually aimed at new entrants, Degree Apprenticeships can be used as part of this process. Businesses can identify the new capacity that they wish to create and look at appropriate apprenticeship schemes that staff can be enrolled on to facilitate the strategic direction the business wishes to take. Whilst this may take some time, it has the benefit of creating knowledgeable and loyal staff who understand the business and can contribute new insight in a way that would be more difficult when employing new staff. As the business continues to grow, degree apprenticeships can be used to help cement the new developments and ensure that they are sustainable in the longer term. Such development schemes are helping to retain jobs and talent, and create loyalty.
Using apprenticeships to fill the gap
It may seem logical to employ individuals who already possess the knowledge skills and experience required to meet the future and aspirational skills requirements of the business, however the requirements of the business may be evolving and may not be fully realised for some time. Upskilling, and re-skilling existing staff using apprenticeships is an excellent way of addressing skills gaps as knowledge, skills and behaviours can be developed both in-line with the organisational expectation but also in-line with the expansion of capacity in new areas. Internal apprenticeships will enable integration into the existing structure over time increasing value added within the organisation as it grows.
As the need to upskill and re-skill staff becomes increasingly important, and the rate at which it is needed also increases, forecasting need and making use of apprenticeships to deliver these skills can be an ideal and cost effective solution. External industry environments are in a state of constant flux and businesses need to look forwards to anticipate future skills needs rather than focusing on serving immediate requirements alone. Making use of apprenticeships to grow the existing skills and knowledge base is an option that should not be ignored.
WMG offers a range of part-time postgraduate programmes, short courses and Degree Apprenticeships. Find out more about WMG’s education programmes here.