The UK’s first Executive MBA (eMBA) students to graduate on the Senior Leader Master’s Degree Apprenticeship standard are celebrating excellent results from Cranfield University. Those taking the eMBA, delivered in partnership with Grant Thornton UK LLP, achieved a 100% pass rate, and 84% of students on the Senior Leader Master’s Degree Apprenticeship gained a distinction or merit.

One in six of the students taking their Level 7 ​Masterships® didn’t have an undergraduate degree, demonstrating how Level 7 apprenticeships are broadening participation in education.

The average age of those on the eMBA was 37, showing that apprenticeships can help to upskill people mid-way through their career to take on greater responsibility and grow into senior leadership roles.

Businesses are proactively talent-spotting

Professor David Oglethorpe, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Dean of the Cranfield School of Management, said:

“The UK faces a skills gap at every level, affecting the productivity of the whole country. Investment in management and leadership skills has a major impact on productivity levels, and in particular is vital for creating workforces that are motivated, agile and productive.

“The Apprenticeship Levy has helped many companies reinvest in their own people, boosting productivity and capability. We have seen a huge breadth of companies supporting staff to take higher apprenticeships – from airlines to food companies.  Businesses are being very proactive in actively talent-spotting and thinking about how they can develop their own people.”

Widening access and increasing opportunity through levy-funded skills development

David Hare, Talent Solutions Director at Grant Thornton UK LLP, says: “The Cranfield School of Management was the first business school in the UK to launch an Executive MBA (eMBA) aligned to the Senior Leader Master’s Degree Apprenticeship. Funded by the Apprenticeship Levy, the eMBA is allowing people from a wide range of backgrounds to gain professional qualifications previously perceived as unavailable to them. The programme is helping leaders to develop the skills and knowledge critical for future productivity, growth and sustainable, long-term prosperity.”

Personal development and career progression

The eMBA has been named the eighth best in the world for career progression and is supported by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI). It combines a Master’s degree, apprenticeship and the option to achieve Chartered Manager or Chartered Fellow professional recognition.

eMBA student Ian Jones, Director of Sales Operations at Archant, a media company with over 140 local, regional and national brands, says that the course directly impacted his career: “The advantage of the apprenticeship is the direct connection it facilitates between the academic learning and application in your professional life. The apprenticeship process certainly puts some rigour and discipline around this.


“From completing the apprenticeship I feel have become more well-rounded professionally - the biggest change is my self-confidence, and in my ability to move between different technical disciplines such as finance, strategy, change management and business law. Since starting my studies in September 2017, my role has become broader and I’ve taken on a larger set of responsibilities that I feel more capable of taking on because of my time at Cranfield. I don’t think I would be as well equipped to succeed in my current role without my apprenticeship.”

Cranfield University also established the UK’s first master’s-level apprenticeship for senior banking with Metro Bank, with many of the first cohort achieving promotions at work. The University now has a suite of Level 7 Masterships® across many subjects.

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