Business leaders: apply now to boost your skills

The programme focuses on developing practical skills, competencies and behaviours linked to leadersh

The programme focuses on developing practical skills, competencies and behaviours linked to leadership Picture: Andi Sapey - Credit: Andi Sapey

A university-based apprenticeship programme is benefitting large employers and their senior staff.

Organisations and individuals have often asked themselves: what makes a great leader? And, for every sample survey, the poll will come up with dozens of answers.

Undoubtedly, there are born leaders, but it is also possible to learn leadership skills and to refresh and sharpen existing attributes.

At the same time, team leaders promoted to reflect their exceptional work skills rather than their ability to manage can sometimes struggle without training.

UEA has been running a Senior Leader Master's Degree Apprenticeship for the last year, building on and complementing the university's existing AMBA-accredited Executive MBA.

The programme focuses on developing practical skills, competencies and behaviours linked to leadership, to ensure that graduates can bring real expertise and capabilities to their individual organisations, and help them to achieve their various business goals.

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It includes many of the same components as the MBA, combining the latest academic thinking with the practical application of knowledge, to ensure success beyond the classroom.

The university's MBA director Julian Campbell says: 'The apprenticeship not only exposes delegates to expert research knowledge from Norwich Business School, but also allows the apprentices to put theory into practice.

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'This is achieved through various tasks, including management consultancy projects where the apprentices work with real clients who present demanding projects based on the strategic challenges facing their organisations.'

As an added bonus, participants who successfully complete the Senior Leader Master's Degree Apprenticeship are eligible for professional registration with the Chartered Management Institute (CMI).

Mr Campbell adds: 'The degree apprenticeship scheme means that organisations can upskill their employees and benefit from all of the aspects of the MBA programme using their apprenticeship levy, and employees can benefit from studying while remaining in full-time employment.'

The introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy by the government in 2017, which requires a spend of 0.5pc of the payroll by firms paying more than £3m a year in salaries, has encouraged more businesses to engage with providers such as UEA.

Businesses are allowed 24 months to spend their funds before they expire and March 2019 will mark 24 months since the levy was introduced.

Under government rules any unspent levy from March 2017 will be lost on a rolling monthly programme, decreasing the funds in the employer's levy pot.

So businesses are advised to act now or risk losing out.

UEA currently offers four approved degree apprenticeship programmes including the Norwich Business School's Senior Leader Master's Degree Apprenticeship.

The university is also working to develop further programmes and is keen to talk to employers about their needs.

'We are already working with companies to design and deliver degree apprenticeship programmes to meet their needs and we are keen to increase our work in this area,' says Sharon Davies, UEA degree apprenticeship manager.

'For an individual, a degree apprenticeship offers an opportunity to study while working. Tuition fees are

paid through the apprenticeship levy, and apprentices are

also paid a salary for their employment.

'So degree apprentices can earn a wage while completing a degree as part of their apprenticeship without student debt. They can also develop the skills, knowledge and behaviours required by employers for specific occupations.'

For further information, visit, email or call 01603 591484.

Students have their say

Rather than a traditional dissertation, part-time UEA MBA students undertake a hands-on consultancy project during a week long trip to Prague. Here's what the some recent participants made of the experience:

Walter Dzvairo, senior key account manager at Virgin Wines

'The Prague consultation project gave me valuable practical experience and the ability to practice some of the methodologies we learnt throughout the MBA to successfully deliver to client's needs.'

Wayne Stannett, engineering and facilities manager at Scottow Enterprise Park

'Prague was a steep learning curve and really challenged the ability of the teams to be able to adapt and implement their existing knowledge into a new and 'alien' environment. The experience taught us all about the importance of team work and diversity and really enhanced our understanding of international businesses.'

Katie Doughty, NHS practice manager

'The consultancy project in Prague was the highlight of the MBA programme. We worked on a project for IBM and the experience is one I will never forget. As a team we worked hard all week and pulled together all our academic knowledge we had gained over the first year of the MBA to deliver a presentation at the end of the week to our client and we had so much fun in the process.'

Amine Fathi, supplier quality management, Group Lotus

'It was intensive, challenging, almost nerve racking at times and different from any of my past professional work projects, it allowed me to put all my professional experience and MBA academic learning to the test. Prague was a very positive experience and a great privilege to work with one of the world's biggest multinationals.'


Mark Brown, a chartered member of the Royal Town Planning Institute and Development Manager at Norwich City Council leads a team of professional planners to deliver urban development proposals which implement the policy, regeneration objectives and community vision of Norwich.

Why were you interested in undertaking a degree apprenticeship?

I'm at a point in my career where my main goal is to work towards a more senior management position within local government which may or may not be directly related to my current profession. The MBA would serve as a vital part of my professional development in achieving this.

What were your initial expectations of what the degree apprenticeship was going to be like?

I've studied at postgraduate level previously when becoming a chartered town planner so that helped shape my expectations of the academic requirements of the course. A major difference with the apprenticeship is that much of the coursework is work-based and therefore can be used by the employers' organisation as well as contributing to the end goal of attaining an MBA. The apprenticeship route was also a great way of Norwich City Council supporting my professional development without affecting training budgets.

What skills and experiences do you hope to gain from the programme?

My aim is to have the skills and knowledge to move from a professional management position to a senior leader role. The latter requires a different way of thinking, looking towards future strategy and operation rather than necessarily concentrating on immediate challenges. In the long run I also like the idea of starting my own business so having the knowledge of an MBA as the foundation for this would be invaluable. The MBA also offers a great way of interacting with a diverse cohort of people from different sectors and being involved in work-based projects which are outside of my immediate remit. These experiences are already challenging the way in which I make decisions.

How do you think undertaking the Senior Leaders Masters Degree Apprenticeship will help you in your current job role?

For me, the MBA was more about gaining skills and knowledge to assist my future career rather than necessarily being needed to support my current role. Having said this, the course is already making me think outside the box and challenge how we operate at departmental level, particularly with a wider understand of the challenges and opportunities facing Norwich City Council.

How is it going so far?

I'm only a couple of months in but the course has already been extremely valuable, I've learnt a lot about economics and corporate strategy which means I now have an answer for everything! (Economists will know what I mean). A major challenge is juggling the course with a full-time job and family life, but this has so far been manageable and has been helped by the support of my employer and other cohorts in the group. It helps that you are with a group of people who are all in the same boat.

What are you enjoying about studying at UEA?

I had looked at other ways of gaining an MBA, for example via distance learning, however the UEA course is far more personal and the benefit of group debate between a cohort of students from different sectors is invaluable to the learning experience. It's great having such a well-respected business school on our doorstep accessible to most of the region and with such great facilities and teaching staff.

Thomas Hubbard, Aviva

What were your initial expectations of what the degree apprenticeship was going to be like?

My preconceptions of the course were that it would be academically focused and challenging. The reality is that while there are clear academic challenges, the focus and teaching prioritises practical application and work related outputs.

What skills, experiences, etc. do you hope to gain from the programme?

I want to gain a broader perspective and awareness of myself and my business environment, to better deliver and inform the direction of travel within my role.

How is it going so far?

Six weeks in and it's going great, although that doesn't mean it is easy. It certainly isn't, although it is enjoyable.

What are you enjoying about studying at UEA?

The style of teaching and differing perspectives from others within the cohort.

Why were you interested in undertaking a degree apprenticeship?

Cliché, I know, but I want to better myself, learn more and achieve a level of education I never believed I would achieve (there is still a long way to go).

Current UEA Degree Apprenticeship Programmes

Senior Leader Master's Degree Apprenticeship

Organisations can use their Apprenticeship Levy funds to cover the course fees of an Executive MBA for employees if undertaken as part of the Senior Leader Apprenticeship programme.

Studying for the UEA Executive MBA fulfils part of the requirements of the new Senior Leader Master's Degree Apprenticeship developed

by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) with leading employers.

Students will complete the Apprenticeship programme, qualify with an MBA and have the option to achieve further professional recognition as a Chartered Manager or Chartered Fellow of the CMI.

Contact the MBA team at or call 01603 591753.

Advanced Clinical Practitioner Degree Apprenticeship

The Advanced Professional Practice programme welcomes applications from all healthcare professionals including nurses, midwives, pharmacists, paramedics and allied health professionals who are keen to progress their career to an advanced level of practice.

Contact programme director David Shepherd at or call 01603 597066.

Adult Nursing Degree Apprenticeship

The Adult Nursing Degree Apprenticeship programme (NDA) offers the opportunity to gain an honours degree and professional registration whilst working in healthcare.

Apprentices undertake the same theoretical learning and practice placements as undergraduate students, while being in paid employment.

Contact course director Coral Drane at or call 01603 597633.

Nursing Associate Higher Apprenticeship

The Nursing Associate Higher Apprenticeship will provide rigorous training combined with assessment tailored to the apprentice's clinical area that will develop a deep understanding of the relationship between theory and practice.

Working closely with practice partners, UEA is currently developing an exciting, flexible and innovative approach to a Nursing Associate apprenticeship programme with delivery tailored to employer and apprentice needs.

Contact course director Gareth Partington at or call 01603 597046.

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