How the off the job requirement of our apprenticeship adds value

Louise Reardon and Stephen Jeffares

One of the key requirements of all degree apprenticeship programmes is that apprentices spend 20 percent of their time ‘off the job’ on activities that contribute to their learning, but which are not part of their routine work. It is understandable that in the context of rising demands and diminished resources, this requirement can be a cause of concern for public sector employers; losing important members of their team, indeed managers of teams, for the equivalent of one day a week over the course of the programme. However, ‘off the job’ does not have to mean not contributing to the job. Indeed, on our Public Management and Leadership Executive Apprenticeship we ensure that all activity is pertinent to practice, so that learning can feed back into the workplace from Day 1 of the programme.

So what does the ‘off the job’ requirement look like in practice? Well, a significant portion of the 20 percent is spent on the formal learning delivered through our blended format of online and face-to-face teaching. The face-to-face teaching on campus amounts to eight days per academic year, while the online elements amount to approximately one day per week per blended module (of which there are four per academic year).

Off the job learning in this regard therefore constitutes a range of activities. For example, the time spent contributing to discussion boards where apprentices debate with their peers about how key concepts apply to their workplace. Time spent engaging with videos illustrating critical case studies or best practice examples. And time spent reading and gathering evidence for assignments.

All the assignments set throughout the programme are geared towards providing the opportunity for apprentices to reflect on how the theories and approaches they are introduced to, apply to their own organisational context and experiences. For example, an assignment might ask apprentices to critically reflect on how an existing ‘wicked problem’ faced by their service could be overcome through applying different modes of governance, or how applying a diagnostic framework can help identify leadership challenges within their organisation.

The work-based dissertation project, undertaken by apprentices in the second year of the programme, also affords the opportunity for apprentices to define their own research question and address a challenge pertinent to their service or authority. So, in spending time off the job on this project, apprentices are effectively undertaking in-house consultancy for their service, or indeed another service in their authority. Providing recommendations for action grounded in evidence and rigorous research, and developed with the support of internationally recognised INLOGOV researchers.

In short, off the job is still relevant to the job. Not only relevant, but adding value.

Want to learn more? Later this week, on Thursday 7 March at 12 noon, we are hosting a live webinar to outline the programme in more detail. Click here to sign up.

Dr Louise Reardon (l.h.reardon@bham.ac.uk) is a lecturer in Governance and Public Policy at INLOGOV. Stephen Jeffares (s.r.jeffares@bham.ac.uk) is a Senior Lecturer in Public Policy at INLOGOV. Both are co-Directors of the Public Management and Leadership Executive Apprenticeship and MSc.

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