Meeting the Army’s management and leadership challenges – now and in the future

Soldiers working towards the management and leadership Degree Apprenticeship will bring real value into the Army; this scheme represents an investment by the Army in developing talented soldiers to meet management and leadership challenges – now and in the future.

Degree Apprenticeships were introduced in 2015 as a way of increasing the number of people with specific knowledge, skills and behaviour required by UK employers. Students gain a degree, as well as developing skills valuable to the organisation. All fees are entirely paid from the employer’s Apprenticeship Levy – the only investment needed is the time commitment required by students and their organisation mentors.

The Apprenticeship is aimed at the Army’s leaders of tomorrow. The programme builds on existing knowledge and experience gained on the job and supports the development of leadership and management skills, applying their academic studies to real work challenges.

Upon completion of the programme, soldiers will graduate with an Honours Degree in Leadership and Management, as well as gaining the prestigious Chartered Manager status – awarded by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI).

The University’s challenge was to develop competence as well as intelligence, and a teaching style to suit geographically dispersed students on varying work patterns who could not rely on access to the Internet.

The course has been designed so that soldiers can study wherever they are based in the world. There is an intensive residential period where topics are introduced and explored using a variety of teaching methodologies that is followed by lecturers facilitating online discussions and host group online video conference sessions once a week to support soldiers’ progress. Each soldier has an allocated Army mentor, who will closely support their learning and development. Mentors will also undergo a University-delivered mentor training package in order to prepare them for their role.

The University’s Nigel Ward, Course Leader, who has adapted the programme specifically for the Army said that Degree Apprenticeships are ideal for employers who want to ‘up-skill’ their existing workforce and maximise the application of learning within the workplace.

Nick Capon, Course Developer, said: “The University of Portsmouth already has a well-established Degree Apprenticeship scheme so we were able to take this and tailor our delivery for soldiers who may well be on the other side of the world. The course focuses on well-written study guides as well as regular contact with lecturers, mentors and each other by email and web-based, video conferencing.

Soldiers will develop an in-depth knowledge of strategic management and leadership that will bring greater understanding and allow them to bring new and transformative ideas to their role in the Army. It’s a fantastic opportunity for talented Army personnel who may not yet have a formal, degree-level qualification but have years’ worth of on-the- job practical experience in leadership and management.”

The Army had an overwhelming response from soldiers wishing to participate in this programme. Limited to just 30 places in the first instance, individuals were chosen from across the Army representing a wide cross-section of ‘cap badges’ and trades from those who serve in the infantry to communication and logistic specialists, medics, engineers and equipment technicians.

Major Rachel Lamont: “This is a really exciting development as it is the first time that a Degree Apprenticeship has been offered to soldiers in the Army. We’re looking to upskill and enhance the learning of our soldier cohort and it’s a wonderful opportunity for the individuals and the Army as we grow and develop into a learning organisation.

“The participants come from an incredibly diverse background and have a wide range of academic qualifications. The scheme will benefit a wide range of soldiers from sergeants to warrant officers because they are key where they sit in the military hierarchy due to their leadership and management positions.”

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