Rule change means Apprenticeship Levy can be used for exec training

Petra Wilson

Employers can now use the Apprenticeship Levy to pay for executive skills development following the launch of a new Master’s degree apprenticeship in leadership and management.

The Senior Leadership Degree Apprenticeship will be unveiled today at a launch event attended by 200 representatives from employers, government and executive education providers.

In August, the Institute for Apprenticeships approved the first ever executive management apprenticeship, which comprises a Master’s degree and the opportunity to gain Chartered Manager professional accreditation and fellowship of the Chartered Management Institute.

Aimed senior executives and C-suite level business leaders, the apprenticeship includes a Master’s degree, such as an MBA, making these courses eligible for Apprenticeship Levy funding. Among the first to take MBA-linked Master’s degree apprenticeships are managers at Aviva, who are studying through Grant Thornton UK and the Cranfield School of Management.

The apprenticeship has been designed by employers to develop the skill sets of senior leaders with responsibility for directing the operations of companies or third-sector organisations, government departments or local authorities, and formulating national and local government policy.


CMI is the only chartered professional body for managers and leaders, counting more than 157,000 in its membership.


Petra Wilton, CMI’s director of strategy, said: “This new Master’s level apprenticeship means that employers will now be able to lead by example and ensure that top teams have the professional leadership skills needed to drive growth. It will also help to challenge snobbery around vocational routes and can help demonstrate how these new apprenticeships really can provide pathways through to the top.”


The announcement is welcome news at a time of renewed focus on upskilling the UK, as Brexit continues to fuel concerns about future access to top-level international talent.


The critical nature of these roles means that not having the right management and leadership skills can lead to the ultimate failure of the business. BEIS data reveals that incompetence or bad management of company directors causes 56% of corporate failures. A 2016 report from Investors in People revealed that poor leadership and management costs the UK economy £84bn a year in lower productivity.

Antony Jenkins, Chair of the Institute for Apprenticeships, said: “I’m delighted that we’ve been able to approve this standard. Apprenticeships are playing an increasingly significant role all across the UK economy, including at the very highest levels of leadership, so it is important that we are putting the right structures in place to ensure that they are of a high calibre and fit for the demands of the role. This approval means that we are better able to ensure first-class leadership among the next generation of senior managers.

“More and more businesses of all sizes are realising the benefits that high-quality apprenticeships can offer. The Institute is putting employers in control of developing the standards they need, giving learners a basis for lasting employment and overcoming national skills gaps.”