Apprenticeship success means more opportunities for small firms in Cumbria and north Lancashire

Apprenticeship success means more opportunities for small firms in Cumbria and north Lancashire

The University of Cumbria has successfully secured a contract with the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) to provide degree and higher level apprenticeships to smaller businesses in Cumbria from January 2018.

The award means smaller businesses in Cumbria can now take advantage of the benefits of employing an apprentice as previously only larger, levy-paying businesses had access.

90% of the cost of the programmes will be funded by the ESFA contract with employers only needing to pay 10% of costs. This means that employing an apprentice on a full degree programme would only cost a small business £2,700.

Among Cumbrian companies already making use of the apprenticeship programme at the University of Cumbria is Long Valley Yurts. Set up a decade ago they now have sites in the Lake District and Peak District and just over a year ago recruited Thomas Ingham to work as operations manager. Keen to learn more about management Thomas began the chartered manager degree level apprenticeship last summer.

“From my experience studying for a degree before this course is better because it’s more relevant to what I’m doing,” Thomas said. “Modules including managing yourself have been really useful in building up an awareness of things like time management and interpersonal skills.”

Each Monday Thomas makes the trip from south Cumbria to Carlisle to take part in the course, something his employer John Maddy says is already paying dividends.

“The way the apprenticeship scheme is now working fits in perfectly – more so than with the original type of apprenticeships,” John said. “We were really looking for a mature candidate and as our business is not a conventional 9-5 type job and having the right sort of person has paid dividends and it’s allowed us to concentrate on other areas of the business.”

Classmate Nicole Wilson is a chartered manager degree-level apprentice and works at Blue Shadow Growth Agency in Cockermouth. 

She chose to study while on the job to progress her career in business management.

“Working as well as learning helps me to develop my managerial skills in practice as well as in theory, and gives me first-hand experience as I work towards becoming chartered,” Nicole said. “The degree apprenticeship means that I don’t have student debt, so I’m able to work, earn and learn without worrying about debts.”

Nicole’s apprenticeship is going well and the model of learning alongside other apprentices means that Nicole has exposure to how other businesses work and how different management theories affect them.

In the future, Nicole is hoping to be promoted, “The managing director would like to promote me to senior management so that I can use what I’ve learnt to make a positive impact in the workplace.”

“Smaller firms in Cumbria have a lot to gain from a relatively small investment,” Peter Train, apprenticeship development manager at the University of Cumbria, said. “The contract will enable new and existing staff from smaller employers to undertake apprenticeships at higher and degree level to develop new skills and enhance business performance. Staff will be able to undertake these apprenticeships even if they have already completed an apprenticeship or hold other qualifications.”

There are places available in several programmes starting in April including Operations/Departmental Manager, Assistant Healthcare Practitioner and Associate Project Manager. For more information see the University of Cumbria's apprenticeship website.