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How The Open University supports employers to deliver apprenticeship programmes

Diane Griffiths

In this blog, Diane Griffiths talks about her role as an Apprenticeship Programme Delivery Manager at The Open University (OU). She explains how she provides support to employers to run successful OU higher and degree apprenticeship programmes.

Primarily my role is to support the employer in our apprenticeship offering at The Open University. My job Is to build a strong relationship so that they’re able to rely on us to help and support their apprentices once they’re on programme.  I work very closely with those leading apprenticeship programmes at the employer and therefore able to support them in a number of ways.

Starting an apprenticeship programme

The first thing I help with is the onboarding. That means helping with the apprentices coming onto our programmes. When we're talking to our employers, we’ll look closely at the detail of the job description.  It's important for us that the job role can support evidential opportunities that we're looking for within the workplace.  We offer a skills audit to all of our employers and we ask that both the line manager and the apprentice complete a skills audit together.  In many cases that gives them a first look at the apprenticeship standard and what has to be delivered and how it's delivered. This ensures that there's the opportunity within the business for the work-based learning.

Putting the apprentice at the heart of the programme

The main aspect of my role, is to be the conduit between both the employer and the university faculty. Working with the employer, The Open University is able to put the apprentice at the heart of everything we do and we’re able to support apprentices through any challenges they may be having.

Throughout a long programme over several years, there's a lot that can happen in that period of time for any apprentice - in their personal private life and in their work life. I'm able to support employers with advice or an early heads-up on blockers and barriers for them.

Tutor support

We have several other staff members who can support the apprentice’s journey. The first one would be the Academic Tutor. The programme is academic and work-based learning. The Academic Tutor will be able to support the apprentice in their academic learning. They will be able to give them detailed feedback on the assignments that they submit. An Academic Tutor is module specific and they are able to help and support apprentices going forward and coach them through to successful completion.

In addition to the Academic Tutor, when it comes to the work-based learning modules, we have work-based learning support in the form of a Practice Tutor. The Practice Tutor will be allocated to the apprentice for the whole of the programme. They will take the apprentice through the whole of the process. The Practice Tutor primarily looks at work-based learning elements and evidential opportunities in the business where they can start to show their efficiencies in the business - right from the start of the programme.  The Practice Tutor is the apprentice’s first point of contact offering one to one support where required.

Student Support Team

As one of our students at The Open University, the apprentice will have access to our Student Support Team. If they're required to do functional skills (in Maths and English) as part of our programme, they’ll also have access to our vocational qualifications centre. We have dedicated tutors who are able to support them through their Maths and English training requirements.

Supporting the employer

Employers also have access to me as one of the OU's Apprenticeship Programme Delivery Managers. I’ll work with the employer and the Practice Tutor to support the apprentice to help with any of those blocks or barriers to success.

I’ll also support the employer is to provide some regular feedback on the progress of their apprentices. That gives both the line manager and the apprenticeship lead the opportunity to look at anybody who might be having a few difficulties. We can put extra support in place if that’s the case to help them through. The most important thing is to facilitate a successful completion of the programme.

Working together to achieve success

We're here to get apprentices successfully through our programme and it really does feel good to see apprentices succeeding in their programmes and in their job roles.

We are looking forward to really enjoying the graduation ceremony that we’ll be offering at the end and all sharing in their success.

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