Hema Tank, Associate Dean at The London Institute of Banking & Finance which provides degree-level apprenticeships in the finance sector, gives her thoughts on the open letter on the apprenticeship levy signed by business leaders, apprenticeship providers, Skills Minister Anne Milton and Institute for Apprenticeships chief executive Sir Gerry Berragan.
In the 12 months following the introduction of the apprenticeship levy headline after headline has flagged that numbers are down. But is that the whole story?
Headlines bemoan the fall in apprenticeship starts, but what doesn’t make the headlines is the fact that there has been a huge jump in degree apprenticeships – up from 1,670 people in 2016/17 to 11,600 in the 2017/18 academic year.
That number is again expected to rise significantly, and quickly, with 33 per cent more apprenticeships expected to be offered in the banking sector alone.
It’s important to remember that employers have two years to spend their levy and many are wisely taking their time. In financial services, for example, a BPP study of apprenticeships in financial services showed that while only 6 per cent of organisations planned to use their levy in Year One, almost 70 per cent predicted a spend in Year Four. The financial sector generates a levy of £250m a year.
We know from our own work in the sector the incredible difference apprenticeships can make to young people's lives; we need to give the new system a chance to bed in. We're already seeing some fantastic results, with great feedback from students and employers alike.
We are the only awarding body in financial services to offer apprenticeship programmes that combine a degree with a professional designation (both awarded by The London Institute of Banking & Finance), leading to a dual award.
That's unique in the finance sector and provides tangible benefits for people that want a lasting and rewarding career in the sector. Although it's early days, the potential is there for these apprenticeships to open doors to young people from all walks of life and fundamentally change life chances.
And, it's not an 'easy option'. These are still relatively new degree apprenticeships that combine study with full engagement with working life. That's hugely demanding. Students need to keep up with the demands of the job and of a degree course.
We owe it to the thousands of young people - as well as people at other stages in their lives - who stand to benefit from good quality apprenticeships to do this well. And often, doing things well does mean doing things slowly at first, until programmes get established.
Many employers are at different stages of setting up their programmes but the stats suggest that the numbers of good quality apprenticeships will quickly grow. We’ve started small - in this first year we’ve only been working with a few with financial services organisations (but including some of the biggest banks, including Barclays).
We aim to roll out the approach across the sector, and tailor the approach further. We want to help organisations in the finance sector get the most out of their levy payments and offer really attractive apprenticeships that provide learners with the best of both worlds – professional status along with a degree, that puts them firmly on the road to a rewarding career.
Learners study the degree as a blended programme, which includes online learning and face-to-face workshops. In the banking sector, apprentices study the BSc (Hons) Banking Practice and Management It is a minimum three-year programme and also culminates in Chartered Associateship.
The programme gives apprentices the opportunity to gain practical experience of working in the financial services industry, developing essential career skills, whilst also gaining a degree and professional designation of distinction.
Hema Tank, Associate Dean at The London Institute of Banking & Finance
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About The London Institute of Banking & Finance: Founded in 1879 as the Institute of Bankers, The London Institute of Banking and Finance (LIBF) is a regulated awarding body and university college, providing under-graduate and post-graduate degree courses for students aiming to pursue a career in banking and finance at our university campus in central London. Our Faculty is drawn from industry practitioners with an academic background and the university has very close links with the sector. We are rated as joint fifth overall in the UK for student satisfaction with 92% of its students reporting that they were satisfied with the quality of their course (2017 National Student Survey).
LIBF also provides an accredited professional qualifications framework for the finance sector, providing firms and individuals with the skills and capability needed in today’s industry. We provide qualifications covering a wide range of subjects, including banking, regulation, conduct, ethics, investment, mortgage advice and financial advice.
We are also the only specialist awarding body for dedicated personal finance qualifications for children and young people under the national curriculum, regulated by Ofqual. We work with over 750 schools and over 50,000 young people every year.