Working in partnership to enhance the apprenticeship experience

The arrival of the employer levy has created new opportunities for the University of Leeds to work differently with longstanding partnerships and networks as well as developing new collaborations.

We believe that integrating University and workplace-based education has benefits for both businesses and the apprentices. The skills of staff are developed to meet business priorities, and the apprentices benefit from a sponsored university education whilst earning a salary.

We are working with employers to address company and organisational needs.  We are utilising our specialist research expertise, providing a teaching environment which offers a high quality learning experience for our apprenticeships. Our research strengths and teaching excellence are ranked amongst the best in the UK.

The University delivers apprenticeships at levels 5-7 to over 250 apprentices. All of our apprenticeship programmes align with the Institute of Apprenticeship and Technical Education apprenticeship standards designed by employers to ensure they develop knowledge, skills and behaviours.

The University of Leeds has a long standing relationship with Wakefield District.  We have in previous years been involved in a number of collaborative projects with Wakefield District Metropolitan Council (WMDC), Wakefield College and the Workers Education Association with the aim of increasing the numbers of young people and adults progressing into higher education.  It has therefore been a pleasure for us to be assist WMDC with their comprehensive induction programme for their level 2, 3 and 4 apprentices.  Each session has around 40 apprentices, both young people and adults, from Council departments across the board.

We delivered sessions introducing apprentices to the concepts of leadership and management in the work environment.  They discussed which leadership qualities are beneficial and how they can be utilised in the workplace.  Apprentices explored different management styles and their appropriateness in different situations. We also encouraged the apprentices to consider roles which would require leadership and management skills that they might aspire to in the future and how these skills might already start to be developed.

The group enjoyed analysing and reflecting on leadership qualities, recognising the differences between leadership and management.  It was really interesting when identifying people with excellent leadership skills as apprentices often chose someone they knew rather than a famous person.

From the feedback that was collated, it is clear that the apprentices appreciated the session.  They commented on the interactivity and how people were encouraged to participate.   Learning more about leadership and management in manner that was informal and fun.

Being involved in apprenticeship induction, is an example of how the University of Leeds widening participation remit and commitment to apprenticeships is intertwined.  Taking part in this activity is both a function of our outreach activity to raise higher education awareness with apprentices and encourage them to consider higher education pathways in the future, as well as our employer engagement.  We are keen to work with local partners and employers to address the commonly held view that ‘University isn’t for the likes of us’.


Lindsey Fraser, Lifelong Learning Centre, University of Leeds