Blog | CIPD, Talking L&D apprenticeships: role-modelling learning at the heart of organisations

Many of you reading this may be aware that since the introduction of the apprentice levy, the apprenticeship is no longer purely assigned exclusively to the 16-21 audience. The levels of apprenticeships now range to include academic levels up to equivalent of a Masters. This has afforded organisations lots of opportunities in how they embrace the concept of apprenticeships in the wider learning and development strategy within their organisations.

One way that L&D teams can role model the impact an apprenticeship can have to their organisation is to consider having an L&D apprentice within their team. The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education have the standards for two L&D apprentice frameworks:

Level 3 aimed at the L&D practitioner (i.e. facilitator, trainer, designer)

Level 5 aimed at the L&D consultant/ business partner level

This blog offers the L&D function some advice on what to consider if they decide to embrace apprenticeships within their offering. Some starter considerations to make have been shared by The Open University and are:

  1. How does this fit in with the overall business need, goals and strategy?
  2. Will the apprenticeship/s help to bridge a skills gap within the organisation?
  3. Is the L&D apprenticeship part of an integrated approach to the L&D strategy?
  4. Which training provider/s are offering apprenticeships?
  5. How do you plan to engage and support the employee going through the programme?

At point 4 there is also the consideration of gaining a qualification on top of the apprenticeship. The gaining of a qualification is not mandated in either the level 3 or 5 L&D frameworks, however some providers will package the relevant level CIPD L&D qualification as part of the overall apprenticeship offering.

CIPD Enterprises have designed a Level 3 programme, and this is currently offered to organisations through the CIPD Employer Solutions Team. A level 5 programme is offered through the CIPD Enterprise online partner Avado. There have been some significant design considerations in the content element of both these products to ensure they align with the CIPD’s learning philosophy. The content aspect of the level 5 programme is delivered purely online and the content for the level 3 has a blended approach.

The blend for the level 3 programme has embraced the concept of the fact that learning can happen across a number of platforms. It also aims to reduce the reliance that all learning happens on a workshop. The programme has also considered the language used in the programme to promote great examples of encouraging a self-directed learning approach.

As the apprentice starts the programme, they get a ‘welcome pack’ that includes an interactive pdf taking them to a welcome video and an example of CIPD resources such as a podcast, research report, the CIPD profession map and a challenge on how to anchor the learning. The focus of the welcome pack is to set the scene that the learning will not be ‘spoon fed’ and the learning will happen through a number of different channels not just on a workshop.

There are five content modules in the level 3 programme that cover all the knowledge, skills and behaviours that are embraced in the standards set for the apprenticeship. These are pretty much what you would expect for L&D practitioners to consider, namely:

  1. Developing me
  2. L&D’s role in the organisation
  3. Learning needs analysis and evaluation
  4. Design
  5. Delivery

Each unit typically takes 2 months to consider and is broken down into three areas

  • Warm-up activities (this would traditionally be called pre-work)
  • Check-in sessions (this is the face to face workshop element)
  • Revisit activities (this would traditionally be called post workshop activities or homework!)

The warm up phase has 7 activities to undertake through a virtual learning environment and need to be completed before the check-in workshop, which is one day in duration at the end of the month allotted for the warm-up activities. The apprentices then have one month to complete the revisit activities, again 7 activities that are guided through the virtual learning environment. The cohort is split into smaller study groups and is encouraged to meet to share their insights from the learning and help anchor key aspects in order to support the end point assessment process the apprenticeships demand.

The whole approach to the design has embraced a range of principles that include:

  • Human-centred design
  • Heutagogy (self-determined learning) ethos
  • Consideration of language used (removing words like classroom, tutor, homework that have school connotations)
  • Action learning

If you are considering embracing L&D apprenticeships some practical things you need to consider are

  • 20% of the learning needs to be off the job – how are you working with the providers to support this
  • undertake a sharing mindset using techniques such as “what have you learned this week” approach so the wider team benefits from the apprentices learning
  • how you signpost and share extra insights
  • how you support the end point assessment process (which includes the presentation of a learning journal and a work-based project)

An L&D apprenticeship is a perfect opportunity to role-model what great learning looks like, how self-directed learning can be powerful and be a truly blended approach with lots of insights to be able to transfer into your own L&D offering.

David Hayden, Digital Learning Portfolio Manager, CIPD


CIPD Learning Philosophy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dH1HlZuA2vk

CIPD Apprenticeship Factsheet https://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/fundamentals/people/routes-work/apprenticeships-factsheet

Level 3 Standards https://www.instituteforapprenticeships.org/apprenticeship-standards/learning-and-development-practitioner/

Level 5 Standards https://www.instituteforapprenticeships.org/apprenticeship-standards/learning-and-development-consultant-business-partner/

The Open University http://www.open.ac.uk/business/apprenticeships




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