Training and development opportunities aren’t lacking at Prepress and I was recently given the opportunity to undertake a ‘modern apprenticeship in management’. I wasn’t familiar with modern apprenticeships and, as I was the first at the company to undertake one, it was something of an unknown: what does it entail? What do you get out of it?

These are among the most common questions I’m asked now that I’ve completed the apprenticeship – by those intrigued and those considering undertaking one themselves. So, in the style of an FAQ, here’s what I discovered.

You undertook a what?

A modern apprenticeship in management. The outcome was an SVQ (Scottish Vocational Qualification) in Management at SCQF (Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework) level 7. The provider was Microcom Training.

What is it like? What did it involve?

You select a number of modules and work through them consecutively. I selected ‘lead your team’, ‘evaluate change’ and ‘manage people’s performance at work’ among others.

There is no teaching and there are no learning resources. Instead, you are prompted to reflect on best practice in management (and where this is applicable to your current role and responsibilities), research areas of interest and investigate management-relevant practices in your own organisation (from company policies to industry-specific requirements).

All work is completed online. I was set a module (with a typical deadline of 1 month), read the module’s 10–25 questions, reflected on them for a few days, then sat down and researched/completed the questions, which took anywhere from 1 to 5 hours, depending on the size of the module and my familiarity with the topic. I attached some form of evidence (e.g. a feedback email, a performance appraisal summary, a committee document) to demonstrate the application of my learning and understanding in my working life. My Microcom contact marked my responses and then visited the office (this was pre coronavirus pandemic) to record a short Q&A session with me to assess my understanding in person.

So, the experience was essentially: reflect, research, write up, discuss.

How much time did it take?

I completed the apprenticeship in 7 months.

I did seven modules and spent a total of around 35 hours working directly on the qualification.

Is it flexible?

Each of my requests to extend a deadline was granted, and on some occasions I completed two or three modules before the next assessment session, so it was extremely flexible. Completing the apprenticeship was never at the expense of my work or work–life balance.

What did you get out of it?

  • A recognised qualification.
  • Greater understanding of best practice in managing the performance of others.
  • Increased familiarity with Prepress’s policies and industry-specific requirements.
  • Dedicated time to reflect on my own practice, goals and development.

The experience was different to any training or coursework I’d undertaken before, and in positive ways – I found this approach to training (reflect, research, write up, discuss) well suited to on-the-job development.

On the subject of training, at Prepress we’re also investing in coaching (see Gillian’s and Sharon’s blog posts), and the concurrence of my apprenticeship and coaching training brought the following thought to mind: could modern apprenticeships be the coaching equivalent of management training, given their focus on reflection, self-direction and discovering your own resources and solutions?

If this sort of approach to training and development sounds good, an apprenticeship in management may be just what you’re looking for.