How Open University apprenticeships are developing the workforce of tomorrow

In 2019, The Open University (OU) is celebrating its 50th year and has empowered over two million students across 157 countries to transform their lives through learning.

The OU has a strong heritage and pedigree in work-based learning – working with employers to understand their business challenges and provide outstanding learning and development solutions.

The OU is ideally placed to be the higher education partner of choice for employers. The OU reaches people who would otherwise have had no opportunity to access higher education and change their lives – for example, carers, people with disabilities, geographically isolated and people with no prior qualifications. This allows employers to upskill and reskill both new and existing employees and benefit from a wider, more diverse talent pool.​

Since 2016, higher and degree apprenticeships have been a key way the OU has delivered its mission. In England, employers are able to use apprenticeship levy funds to upskill and reskill both new and existing employees. IBM, for example, chose three Open University degree apprenticeship programmes which are playing a key part in the company’s learning and development strategy.

Paul Milner, Senior Early Professionals Manager, IBM explained: “The OU has got a proven track record for delivering skills and knowledge to a business environment that works. We found some universities were quite rigid in how they deliver their business. That does become problematic in the long run, and so for employees who are mid-career, we find the OU to be very beneficial in that respect.”

Lee Webb, who is on the Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship, added: “The delivery model itself is unique compared it to the normal academic learning format. It’s very flexible, it’s adaptable. There are online tutorials as well as classroom tutorials which you can attend. You learn at your own pace and there’s a lot of information online to help you. The tutors give you great guidance, hints and tips on what you should be preparing for assessments, so it’s a completely different concept to in-the-classroom learning.”

Open University apprenticeships are delivered flexibly to fit around needs of employers. The programmes are scalable for consistent training across multiple sites and provide high quality work-based learning, to allow apprentices to make an immediate impact in the workplace.

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