7 Principles of Lean Management Every Manager Should Know

Lean management is an essential methodology for enhancing efficiency and minimising waste in any organisation. Here are seven key principles of Lean management that every manager should be familiar with:

  1. Identify Value: Understand what adds value from the customer’s perspective. Focus all processes on maximising this value, ensuring everything you do is aligned with customer needs.
  2. Map the Value Stream: Analyse your processes to identify and eliminate waste. Look at each step in your workflow and remove anything that doesn’t contribute to creating value.
  3. Create Flow: Once the waste is removed, ensure that your processes flow smoothly without interruptions or delays. A continuous flow of work optimises efficiency and reduces time wastage.
  4. Establish a Pull System: Work should be ‘pulled’ by customer demand, not ‘pushed’ according to a production schedule. This approach helps in reducing overproduction and maintaining optimal inventory levels.
  5. Seek Perfection: Lean is a continuous improvement journey. Always be on the lookout for ways to improve processes, reduce waste, and increase value.
  6. Empower the Team: Involve your team in the Lean process. Frontline employees often have the best insight into how processes can be improved.
  7. Respect for People: This principle is about creating a culture where employees feel valued and empowered. Encourage teamwork, collaboration, and continuous learning to create a supportive work environment.

By integrating these principles, managers can lead their teams more effectively, driving their organisations towards enhanced efficiency, productivity, and customer satisfaction.

Achieve this through an apprenticeship.

Apprenticeships from the Employer’s Lens: The Untapped Potential

Welcome to Day 4 of National Apprenticeship Week 2024! Today, we shift our focus to the employers’ perspective, exploring the untapped potential and benefits of embracing apprenticeship programs. What are the apprentice benefits?

Apprentice benefits

In today’s dynamic business landscape, employers are constantly seeking innovative ways to nurture talent, enhance productivity, and stay competitive. Apprenticeships have emerged as a potent solution, offering businesses the opportunity to mould future industry leaders.

Investing in Future Talent

Apprenticeships allow businesses to invest in their future workforce. By nurturing apprentices, companies can tailor the skill development process, ensuring that the emerging workforce is well-aligned with their operational needs and industry standards.

Real Stories: Apprenticeships in Action

  • Tech Triumphs: A tech company found that its software development apprentices brought fresh perspectives and innovative solutions, leading to the development of a groundbreaking new app. This highlights how apprentices can contribute to technological advancements and creative problem-solving.
  • Hospitality Heroes: In the hospitality sector, a renowned hotel chain credited its apprenticeship program for a significant improvement in customer service ratings. Apprentices, with their eagerness to learn and adapt, had injected new energy into the team.

Bridging the Skills Gap

One of the most pressing challenges businesses face today is the skills gap. Apprenticeships bridge this gap by fostering a continuous learning culture, ensuring that employees’ skills stay relevant and updated.

The Ripple Effect of Apprenticeships

The impact of apprenticeships extends beyond skill development. They foster a culture of mentorship, enhance employee loyalty, and boost overall morale.

Cultivating a Learning Culture

Apprentices bring a learning mindset to the workplace, often inspiring their more experienced colleagues to adopt a similar attitude. This creates an environment where continuous improvement is the norm.

Long-term Benefits for Businesses

Investing in apprenticeships is not just about filling immediate vacancies; it’s about building a resilient and adaptable workforce. Businesses that engage in apprenticeships often see a long-term return on investment through increased innovation, lower turnover rates, and enhanced brand reputation.

A Challenge for Employers

As we celebrate National Apprenticeship Week, it’s a call to action for employers across industries to consider the strategic value of apprenticeships. Whether it’s fostering innovation, bridging skill gaps, or building a robust talent pipeline, the benefits of apprenticeships are huge.

Employers who embrace apprenticeship programs are not just contributing to their business’s success. They are playing a pivotal role in shaping the workforce of tomorrow. So, as we look forward to a brighter future, let’s recognise and leverage the power of apprenticeships in driving business and societal growth.

For businesses looking to start or enhance their apprenticeship programs, resources and success stories are available on platforms like Apprenticeships.gov.uk and industry-specific forums. The time to act is now – harness the potential of apprenticeships and pave the way for a more skilled and dynamic workforce.

Apprentice benefits

Apprenticeships for Childcare: A Path to Nurturing Future Generations

Welcome to Day 3 of National Apprenticeship Week 2024! Today, we’re zooming in on one of the most impactful sectors where apprenticeships are making a significant difference – apprenticeships for childcare.

The Heart of Apprenticeships for Childcare

Childcare is not just about watching over children; it’s about nurturing their growth, understanding their needs, and contributing to their early education. Apprenticeships in childcare offer a unique blend of practical experience and theoretical knowledge, equipping aspiring childcare professionals with the skills they need to make a real difference.

A Journey of Growth and Learning

Through a childcare apprenticeship, individuals gain hands-on experience in a range of settings, from nurseries to primary schools. This immersive approach ensures that apprentices are not only skilled in child care techniques but are also well-versed in child development theories.

Real-World Experience

The beauty of these apprenticeships lies in their practicality. Apprentices engage in daily activities with children. Learning how to plan educational play, support early literacy and numeracy, and develop children’s social skills. It’s a learning-by-doing approach that builds confidence and competence.

The Curriculum: A Balanced Approach

The curriculum in childcare apprenticeships is meticulously designed to cover all aspects of early years care. Apprentices learn about child safety, nutrition, and first aid, alongside developing skills in creating inclusive and stimulating learning environments.

Success Stories: From Apprentices to Childcare Experts

Let’s take a look at some real-life success stories from the childcare sector:

  • Emma’s Story: Starting as an apprentice in a local nursery, Emma has now progressed to become a lead early years educator. Her journey, detailed on Apprenticeships.gov.uk, is a testament to the career progression opportunities that apprenticeships offer.
  • Jacob’s Impact: As highlighted on City & Guilds, Jacob’s apprenticeship in a primary school led him to innovate new teaching methods for children with learning difficulties, significantly improving engagement and learning outcomes.

The Future of Childcare: A Sector in Evolution

The childcare sector is continually evolving.With a growing emphasis on holistic development, digital literacy in early years, and outdoor learning. Apprenticeships are adapting to these changes, ensuring that the new generation of childcare professionals is equipped to meet these emerging needs.

Bridging Theory and Practice

One of the most significant advantages of apprenticeships in childcare is the ability to apply theoretical knowledge in real-world settings. It bridges the gap between learning and doing, providing apprentices with a deeper understanding of their role in a child’s development.

A Rewarding Career Awaits

An apprenticeship in childcare is more than just a training program. It’s a journey into a rewarding career that shapes the future of our society. As we celebrate National Apprenticeship Week, let’s acknowledge the crucial role these apprenticeships play in nurturing the next generation. Find out more here.

If you’re passionate about making a difference in children’s lives, consider starting your journey with a childcare apprenticeship. The rewards, both personal and professional, are immeasurable.

For more information on apprenticeships in childcare and to hear more inspiring stories, visit Apprenticeships.gov.uk and City & Guilds. Your path to a fulfilling career in childcare starts here.

Apprenticeship for childcare

Apprenticeships: Transforming Lives and Careers

Welcome to Day 2 of National Apprenticeship Week 2024, where we dive into the heartwarming apprentice success stories of individuals who’ve transformed their lives through apprenticeships.

Apprentice success stories

The journey through apprenticeships is as diverse as the individuals themselves. Today, let’s explore some inspiring stories of those who’ve carved successful career paths through apprenticeships.

Healthcare: A Journey of Dedication and Growth

In the NHS, apprentices like Sarah, a 50-year-old trainee ophthalmic nurse, have found a supportive and nurturing environment. Sarah’s story, featured on the Apprenticeships.gov.uk (link below) website, exemplifies how apprenticeships provide a stepping stone for those seeking a career transition. Her experience in the healthcare sector through the apprenticeship route has been a life-changing one, offering her opportunities she wouldn’t have found elsewhere.

The Creative Path: From School to Stage

Hosanna, an 18-year-old technical apprentice in London, discovered her love for theatre through an apprenticeship. Her story, detailed on Apprenticeships.gov.uk, highlights the variety and excitement that comes with working in a creative field. From different working hours to interacting with various people, her apprenticeship has been a gateway to fulfilling her passion.

Building a Career in Construction

For those in the construction industry, apprenticeships are a launchpad for success. Apprenticeships.gov.uk features the journey of Ella, a 22-year-old Operations Manager from Chipping Campden, who started her path with an apprenticeship. Her aspirations include reaching significant career milestones at a young age, something made possible through the hands-on experience and early start provided by her apprenticeship.

Embracing the Digital World

The digital sector, too, has been a fertile ground for apprentices. As noted by City & Guilds, Adam Parker achieved distinction in Digital Marketing and has significantly impacted his employer, Pennine Labels. His apprenticeship journey stands testament to the potential of apprenticeships in shaping skilled professionals in digital fields.

The Apprenticeship Advantage

These stories are just a few examples of how apprenticeships have been instrumental in shaping careers and lives. They reflect the diversity of opportunities available across various industries, from healthcare and construction to the creative arts and digital marketing.

Why Apprenticeships Matter

  • Career Development: Apprenticeships provide practical experience, which is invaluable in today’s job market.
  • Personal Growth: The journey is not just about acquiring skills but also about personal development and confidence building.
  • Diverse Opportunities: With apprenticeships available in numerous fields, there’s a path for almost every interest and passion.

Your Path Awaits

As these stories show, apprenticeships are more than just an alternative route to qualification; they are life-changing experiences that equip individuals with the skills, confidence, and real-world experience to excel in their chosen careers.

If these stories have inspired you, why not explore what an apprenticeship could do for you? The possibilities are endless, and your success story could be next!

To read more about these inspiring stories and explore the diverse world of apprenticeships, visit Apprenticeships.gov.uk and City & Guilds. Or to read what our apprentices think have a look here.

Apprentice success stories

National Apprenticeship Week 2024: Unveiling the Power of Learning by Doing

Welcome to National Apprenticeship Week 2024! As the country buzzes with the energy of potential, this week we celebrate the fusion of knowledge and hands-on experience that apprenticeships offer. It’s a week to spotlight the transformative power of ‘earning while learning’. See how this approach is sculpting the skilled workforce of the future.

The Essence of Apprenticeship

Apprenticeships are a national tradition. A unique blend of practical training and academic study that crafts capable professionals across various sectors. It’s where theory meets practice, and knowledge meets action. This week, we’ll delve into the theme ‘Skills for Life‘, reflecting the foundational skills apprenticeships instil in learners, equipping them for both career and life.

Celebrating Growth and Opportunity

National Apprenticeship Week is not just about recognising current apprentices; it’s a call to those on the cusp of their careers, businesses seeking to nurture talent, and educators shaping the curriculum. It’s about building bridges between ambition and opportunity, learning and doing, teaching and applying.

The Transformative Journey

Apprenticeships are a transformative journey. They provide a unique platform for individuals to step into their chosen fields with confidence, armed with practical skills and a solid understanding of their craft. It’s an approach that value.

Find out more about City Skills apprenticeships here. Or, why not take a look at the official National Apprenticeship Week 2024 website.

National Apprenticeship Week 2024

City Skills Ofsted 2023

City Skills Ofsted 2023 report is here!

We are so excited to be able to announce that following inspection in December we are GOOD! Thanks so much to our highly supportive Employers, Apprentice & Staff who drove the successful visit. A huge well done to the team!

We will be releasing snippets of the report over social media but if you’d like to read it in full you can find it below. You can also find the report on Ofsted’s website.

City Skills Ofsted 2023

Leading Through Change: 8 Tips for Successful Transformational Leadership

Navigating through organisational change can be challenging but transformational leadership can get you there. Here are eight essential tips for leaders to guide their teams successfully through transformation:

  1. Communicate Clearly and Often: Keep everyone informed about the change process, objectives, and progress. Transparent communication reduces uncertainty and builds trust.
  2. Lead by Example: Embody the change you wish to see. Leaders who actively demonstrate their commitment to the transformation encourage others to follow suit.
  3. Involve Your Team: Engage employees at all levels in the change process. Their input and involvement can provide valuable insights and increase buy-in.
  4. Address Concerns and Provide Support: Listen to your team’s concerns and provide the necessary support. This might include training, resources, or simply a platform to voice their thoughts.
  5. Celebrate Small Wins: Recognise and celebrate milestones along the way. This keeps morale high and provides motivation to move towards larger goals.
  6. Stay Flexible and Open to Feedback: Be prepared to adjust plans based on feedback and new insights. Flexibility is key to navigating the complexities of change.
  7. Focus on the Positive Impact: Highlight the benefits and positive outcomes of the change. This helps maintain a positive outlook and motivation.
  8. Ensure Consistent Follow-Through: Once decisions are made, ensure consistent implementation. This shows commitment and helps cement the changes in the organisational culture.

Successful organisational transformation requires transformational leadership through a thoughtful approach. Lleaders play a critical role in guiding their teams through change with empathy, clarity, and resilience.

Find out about our Continuous Improvement courses here

Learning Professionals Central to Learning Culture

learning professional

Changing the “culture” of any organisation is a real challenge. In the face of so many other challenges, it is easy to focus instead on day-to-day tactical issues of recruitment, production and infrastructure, but in order to really handle change, innovation, engagement, collaboration and the benefits this brings, the aim of every organisation should be to create a real learning culture. This is the task of the learning professional. 

A learning culture includes a set of organisational values, processes, and practices that encourage employees, and the organisation as a whole, to continually learn and add new skills.

A future of learning

Learning powers culture and culture powers engaged employees who are energised to innovate, delight customers and beat the competition.

For all generations in the workforce today, evolving with the role, or developing for the next one, has become the prerequisite of success. The ability to continually absorb new information and translate it into productive outputs is of paramount importance. 

We now operate in a world where learning should be an ongoing process and offers opportunity and freedom. The challenges of the last two years have forced all generations to think differently about what it takes to stay relevant and stay ahead.

Businesses—and their employees—are depending on a strong culture of learning to navigate the new demands of work in a more agile, fast-paced world. Organisations need employees that are eager to hone in-demand skills and be deployed in a variety of roles in order to reap rewards.

To do this, organisations must deliver an environment where employees can continually develop and progress. Offering opportunities for continuous learning and creating a culture of agility is a real competitive advantage. Those organisations that and get this right, have a higher likelihood to stay ahead of their competitors.

A Learning Professional’s Role is to create culture 

Learning and development (L&D) have more opportunities to impact culture than any other area within an organisation. Culture is about attitude and behaviours and in order to operate successfully in today’s changing landscape it consists of many new behaviours that need to be learned and developed.

L&D also transcends business functions, hierarchy and job titles. From new recruits to senior leaders, learning and development practitioners can act as cultural ambassadors, while embedding an organisation’s mission, vision and values into the stories and examples that bring learning to life. Learning experiences are also a great way to observe the cultural climate and get feedback from employees, on how they are feeling about an organisation’s purpose and their role in it daily. 

Why Culture is Critical to an Organisation’s Success

Culture can be hard to define as it manifests in different ways, but broadly speaking an organisation’s culture is characterised by the set of underlying values, attitudes, beliefs and the resulting behaviours that define how work gets done. Therefore, how individuals think about their workplace; their engagement with a brand and how they perceive it lives up to its values is critical to their outputs meaning a positive culture drives competitive advantage and can lead to sustained corporate success. 

In today’s environment, it’s critical to create an organization that is driven by purpose and incorporates purpose into all its activities. Employees seek it, customers anticipate it, and the public increasingly demands and judges it.

Self Determination

At no other time in recent history has business faced a phenomenon like ‘The Great Resignation’. Living and working through the pandemic and dealing with the subsequent economic and social fallout have prompted individuals to prioritise flexibility and self-fulfilment. People want to practice self-determination in all aspects of their lives, and they want to continue to learn and grow through their careers so that they can make a greater impact in their world. It has led organisations to re-examine their business strategies, workforce models, values, and culture — often steered by new demands from employees themselves. 

The pandemic has also accelerated the pace of change. Digital, virtual, skills-based approaches to resourcing and wholescale transformations all mean people need to collaborate more, thrive in ambiguity, and develop stronger resilience to change.

The Role of a Learning Professional In Developing Culture

L&D plays a central role in building the skills needed in the new normal and broadening the perspectives of leaders and their teams.

From induction to training, CPD and ongoing engagement, L&D professionals can embrace their role as cultural ambassadors. They can provide examples of company purpose and demonstrations of values to embed within learning content. They can use learning to create spaces for colleagues from all parts of the organisation to get to know one another and build networks to broaden and share internal knowledge.

A Learning Professional must also upskill themselves in EDI policies and grow their own cultural intelligence. Using EDI guiding principles they should review learning design and content to ensure learning experiences are inclusive and relatable. 

L&D professionals have the opportunity to help grow a company culture that has a shared sense of purpose, anchored in common corporate values and led by skilled people whose mindset and behaviours promote an inclusive and diverse workplace that fosters collaboration and innovation. 

When employees are continually learning, their employers will naturally benefit. What organisation doesn’t want higher productivity, better products, that are quicker to market, improved internal mobility, higher retention rates, and a diverse pool of talent attracted to it. It’s not just about learning itself; it’s also about the outcomes a learning culture can demonstrate. 

Learning and Development Apprentices 

A learning and development apprentice practitioner will continue to advance their knowledge of professional best practice and align the learning needs of a workforce with the strategic objectives of a business by ensuring learning and development contributes to improved performance at an individual, team and organisational level.

Find out what a Learning and Development apprentice could do for your business. 



Continuous Improvement Apprenticeships: Lean Six Sigma DMAIC model

Lean six sigma

The Lean Six Sigma methodology is the amalgamation of two improvement methodologies. Firstly ‘Lean’ which targets the elimination of waste in production and service-based processes. Secondly, ‘Six Sigma’ defects by reducing variation in in a particular business processes. 

Lean has a bias towards action and is underpinned by five core principles. Identifying value, undertaking value stream mapping, ensuring continuous process flow, moving to customer pull process initiation, and pursuing  perfection of the product/service, process and individual.

Six Sigma adopts a bias towards analysis and has two approaches. Firstly DMAIC focuses on the process improvement of existing operations. Whereas DMADV concentrates on process improvement planning for new processes or innovations.

People typically consider Lean Six Sigma projects as efforts to make process improvements. These projects usually follow a five-step problem-solving methodology known as DMAIC (Dee-May-Ic) or DMADV.


DMAIC and DMADV represent structured, customer-focused, data-driven cyclic approaches to problem-solving. The acronyms stand for:

  1. Define / Define
  2. Measure / Measure
  3. Analyse / Analyse
  4. Improve / Design
  5. Control / Validate

Organisations seeking to implement incremental improvements find both models highly suitable, making them valuable in various contexts.

The Purpose of DMAIC / DMADV

Define – The team and sponsor collaboratively establish the scope, goals, financial targets, and operational performance objectives for the improvement initiative driven by the Voice of the Customer.

Measure – collects data to develops detailed understanding of the current process state, collect data on process speed, cost and quality by seeking to expose the underlying causes of problems.

Analyse – Conduct a thorough assessment to identify and validate the key input and output variables (referred to as the Critical ‘Xs’) linked to the improvement goals.

Improve – pilots selected solutions. Using structured Design of Experiments (DoE). Executes a full-scale implementation / Design. The internal specifications are validated and compared to the customer wants & needs so that new process can be subjected to customer feedback before the final product or service is released.

Control – completes the improvement project work and hands-over the improved process to the business owner along with the procedures (Standard Operating Procedures, SOPs) to realise and maintain the gains / Verify – adjusts the processes, develops the metrics and tracks customer product / service feedback.

Benefits of Lean Six Sigma

When implemented successfully, Lean Six Sigma is far more than a waste reduction or a statistical analysis methodology to improve processes. It is one of the foremost methodological practices for increasing customer satisfaction. Improving process capability and improving profits, employee morale and business product / service quality.

Lean Six Sigma has been refined and perfected over many years to enhance operational efficiency, increase productivity and lower operating costs. It can improve get products and services to market faster and with fewer defects, leading to a measureable competitive advantage. 

Continuous Improvement Apprenticeships

The DMAIC model is at the heart of the Business Improvement Apprenticeships. Delivered by City Skills to help businesses enhance their business understanding by means of improved strategic linkages, project management and Lean Six Sigma skills. Used in a manner to improve performance and increase productivity. 

In addition to the government’s funded improvement apprenticeships, City Skills also offer bespoke tailored training packages to ensure your business improvement, project or change management strategies are a success.

The Improvement Leader Apprenticeship is best suited to someone with an undergraduate degree or those in a managerial role. It is perfect for those with a good understanding of their business. Or those who have improvement or Lean and Six Sigma experience under their belt.  

The Improvement Practitioner Apprenticeship suits anyone that has the responsibility or need to support change / project management. As well as those who need to develop their lean and six sigma skills.

What’s the Difference Between Coaching and Teaching?

What’s the Difference Between Coaching and Teaching?


All organisations, in almost every sector, are trying to get the best out of their people. Managers and senior leaders are responsible for ensuring teams are performing at their best in order to achieve optimal performance both for themselves and their organisation. 


Two ways of achieving improved performance are through coaching and teaching. There are some similarities between these approaches but also key differences that create different results and have a different impact. It is important to recognise these differences and how and when to use each approach when leading a team. 

Primary differences between coaching and teaching

Teaching aims to provide new knowledge and skills, while coaching aims to transfer responsibility for refining and developing knowledge and skills.

For instance, a new employee might receive instruction on using organizational systems and processes, followed by coaching to enhance these processes or enhance their own efficiency.

Teaching places ownership and responsibility on the teacher or the person with the knowledge. Coaching gives a lot more responsibility to the person being coached and encourages two-way communication between parties. 

For example, teaching may involve telling an employee the things they need to know or do in relation to their role and responsibilities, focusing on the basic duties and key performance indicators (KPIs, whereas coaching changes the conversation to being about how the employee can be accountable and take decisions to develop in the role further, improve their performance and own their KPIs.

What separates the coaching and teaching methodologies?

Both methodologies have the end goal of an individual developing skills acquiring knowledge or demonstrating new behaviours, but there some key differences between these two approaches when managing or supporting staff.

Usually, we consider a teacher as a subject matter expert in their chosen field, having more knowledge than the individuals they teach. Conversely, a coach, whether in an educational or business context, doesn’t necessarily have to be an expert in a specific skill or function. Instead, they must excel in asking the right questions and adeptly listening to both spoken and unspoken cues.

A coach imparts knowledge and introduces learnings, but also makes adjustments and provides feedback based on real-time information. Individuals receiving coaching usually possess some foundational knowledge and an understanding of how to approach the specific activity. The coach helps people “unlock” that knowledge and choose to use it in different ways by asking the right sort of questions. 

A teacher, on the other hand, introduces new ideas and topics to students who generally have little, if any, previous understanding of what is being taught. The teacher is dealing with more of a blank slate in this regard, where a coach is re-sculpting something that already exists. 

Another difference is the way in which a coach or teacher may communicate. Teaching is a generally a one-sided, directive and instructional conversation led by a ‘sage on the stage’, however, coaching is more two-way, ongoing and non-directive, where the coach is more the ‘guide on the side’, with the focus on the person being coached taking responsibility for their own decisions and actions. 

In practice

In a group situation, a facilitator might share a piece of knowledge and then leave it to the group to decide what it means for them, what’s their way forward might be and what they might do with that information now.

Generally, educators operate within a formal setting, where they establish clear roles and define specific tasks to achieve desired outcomes within a predetermined timeframe. On the other hand, coaching often takes place informally, whether it’s in staffrooms or corridors, often without the need for formal acknowledgment. This approach integrates coaching into an organization’s broader practices and activities, creating a pervasive culture.

These two methods, while sharing similar goals but differing in approach, provide alternative solutions for various situations and can yield significant benefits for different purposes.

What is the ideal approach for a leader to utilise in their team management?

A leader’s role is to guide, direct, and influence employees in the most productive and effective way possible. A teacher’s role involves fostering students’ independence in learning, requiring the use of various approaches and techniques to attain desired outcomes.

Overall leadership is naturally more aligned with coaching, so it’s helpful for every leader to be a professional coach to some degree. 

Coaching encourages and empowers individuals to think through and overcome the challenges they face in the workplace, which not only helps them develop personally and professionally, but also takes the onus away from leaders taking on more and more responsibility. This empowerment of staff can also increase employee engagement, motivate employees, and improve overall organisational productivity due to the level of trust and sense of fulfilment for all parties. 

Coaching may not provide the solutions or outcomes the leader is expecting, but with the right support and structure, a coaching culture could mean stronger, faster, and even better solutions.

People Professional

The Level 5 People Professional apprenticeship launched in September this year, replacing the Level 5 HR Consultant/Business Partner apprenticeship. Like the old qualification, this is aimed at those working in People Practice roles at a consultant level, who have the opportunity to get involved in a wide range of people activities, even if they have specialised roles. As with all apprenticeships, this is for people already in the role who are looking to increase their knowledge, skills and behaviours and gain associate membership of the CIPD.

people professional

What’s New?

The new Level 5 People Professional qualification offers a more comprehensive learning experience for apprentices than its predecessor. Whilst the core of the programme is the same, the new version looks to:

develop further accompanying skills, such as project management tools and techniques

address new key business trends, such as sustainable working practices, and

recognise the growing influence of technology and digital working on people practices

The length of the programme has slightly increased to give learners the time to focus on the increased syllabus.


The ways in which the qualification is assessed is changing to make it a quicker and slicker process, shortening from around six months to four. The Diploma, which has always been a part of the old HR5 qualification, has now been incorporated into the end point assessment which will help learners to see how the Diploma and the standards elements are intrinsically linked rather than feeling like two distinct elements.

Learners will still be expected to demonstrate the high quality of work that has always been associated with the level 5 qualification but they will now have the option of using projects and pieces of work completed over the course of the programme rather than having to time in a project to fit in with their end point assessment, which has proved challenging for apprentices in the past.

Whilst full details of the EPA processes are still being finalised, we are excited to 

be offering this more comprehensive and modernised version of the level 5 qualification.

Click Here to find out more about the L5 People Professional Apprenticeship.

Jim Blythe

Jim Blythe has worked in People Professional roles for most of the last 25 years. Supporting organisations in the UK, Northern Europe and North America. He specialises in learning and development, recruitment and organisational design, though he has been a reluctant Generalist too. He has worked in modern apprenticeships continuously since 2017. Designing curriculums and content for HR, learning and development, leadership and management and business administration programmes.

Why HR Teams are key to business stability 

Following a volatile two years, the role of HR has changed radically. 

First, people professionals were responsible for managing the effects of Brexit, then the pandemic, with HR functions became central to how businesses navigated unprecedented times and working-from-home models, but now HR teams face a tangled web of new issues related to rising business and living costs, fierce competition for talent and widening skills gaps.  

In the face of such challenging environments, HR training and qualifications will be essential to make sure HR teams are supported and CIPD accredited qualifications set the bar.

CIPD Associate Diploma

City Skills is now offering the CIPD Associate Diploma in People Management Level 5 to existing HR professionals that want to step into management roles.  City Skills Tutor Jim Blythe looks at the way training can support people professionals to help businesses to stabilise and empower their people.  

Says Jim, “HR, like so many other things in business is changing. Fuelled by first Brexit, then Covid, which made virtual or remote working essential and now the preferred model for a lot of people, we are now seeing a new set of challenges in both our personal and professional lives which HR teams are dealing with.  

“As businesses establish the best way to support the requirements of their workforce People professionals are somewhere in the middle, trying to sort through individual situations, unpicking specific problems as well as driving performance and change.  

“It means there are an awful lot of skills needed within the HR function.” 

“Despite these ongoing changes, businesses are still under pressure to ensure they have everything in place to support their remote workforce, drive innovation and meet revenue targets.  

“In addition, HR plays a key role in developing, reinforcing the values or changing the culture of an organisation. This, in addition to pay, performance management, training and development, recruitment, and onboarding, all of which HR still covers, constitutes essential elements of a business ecosystem. 

To maintain control over all of these elements, HR teams need to stay sharp, keep abreast of what’s going on and how the world continues to change.” 

HR Qualifications from the CIPD

Learning while on the job may seem challenging, but the CIPD Associate Diploma in People Management Level 5 is designed for HR professionals who are already in the field. It helps them acquire additional practical insights into various key HR topics, such as resourcing, reward, organizational performance, and evidence-based practice. Moreover, they will develop a solid understanding of how HR contributes to achieving strategic objectives and how data can enhance performance throughout an organisation.

City Skills now delivers this CIPD Associate Diploma, which is the equivalent of an undergraduate degree, on-line for HR professionals that want take on more senior HR roles. 

Jim continues, “There are seven modules studied in all, which together cover all of the elements an experienced HR professional has to know. But of course, during a webinar if anything comes up that we feel the group needs to now, we are able to discuss that too.  This way we can make sure we include any small changes and can discuss ways of applying legislation, policies and practical elements with peers, making everything very relatable.”  

Online HR Qualifications  

HR specialists have designed and are delivering this HR qualification to assist HR and people professionals in succeeding in their studies. Wherever you are in the world, you can access this HR qualification online.  

Weekly live webinars encourage participation and interaction with other HR and people professionals, facilitated by an expert tutor who will lead the classroom environment.

Additionally, learners receive a development coach who attends regular one-on-one assignment surgeries. After each assignment, there is a session to provide support to learners as needed. 

Adds Jim, “For some businesses the Covid pandemic, subsequent lockdowns – and the move to remote working -has meant a complete change to employment terms and conditions and while some have adapted quickly, for others it has taken some time. Many people still begin and end their work in accordance with traditional working hours, while others, who do not have to commute daily, experience flexible working hours that allow for later starts or earlier finishes. However, regardless of the model, they must maintain productivity and manage performance.

“In general, businesses need to learn how to balance their workforce and customer commitments in ways that are most productive for all parties. To do so it’s important to recognise what skills a HR function needs to best support its workforce whether they are in or out of the workplace.” 

Whether you’re looking to develop your HR career or you are an employer that wants to equip their people professionals with the skills to thrive in a changing professional landscape, HR qualifications, accredited by the CIPD offer a proven approach to learning and development. 

For more information about this CIPD HR qualification visit https://city-skills.com/cipd-diploma-people-management/ or https://findacentre.cipd.org/centres/city-skills-croydon

The Role of L&D in a VUCA World

VUCA World

What is a VUCA world? Today’s world could be described as somewhat chaotic, partly because of the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and partly because of the enormous shifts that businesses across the UK- and indeed the globe- have had to make in response. 

The pace of change has been terrific in the last two years, it has torn up good business plans and forced employers to adapt and pivot in ways never thought of before.

We characterise such an environment as VUCA. The American military originally coined the phrase VUCA to adopt a specific perspective on viewing the world. It has become more prevalent over recent years and is an acronym for an environment dominated by:

  • Volatility: where things change fast but not in a predictable trend or repeatable pattern.
  • Uncertainty: where major “disruptive” changes occur frequently. In this environment, the past is not an accurate predictor of the future and identifying and preparing for “what will come next” is extremely difficult.
  • Complexity: where there are numerous difficult-to-understand causes and mitigating factors involved in a problem.
  • Ambiguity: the causes and the “who, what, where, when, how, and why” behind the things that are happening are unclear and hard to ascertain.

As a result, many organisations are working hard to establish what this means for them, and what they can do to minimise the impact of the VUCA world on their business objectives.

However, the truth is that while VUCA may be the latest buzzword, but this constant evolution is not really anything new. Businesses have been facing a bold, dramatic change in their specific industries for many years; the difference today is that it tends to be much more overt, tangible and extremely fast-paced.

The key to surviving in a VUCA world is to think big, but not necessarily long term.

The challenge

The challenge is that because of its very nature very little can be done to brace against the impact of a VUCA world – its terms inherently describe unpredictability, making planning ahead difficult. The response, therefore, needs to be about changing mindsets and preparing your people to deal with change, rather than putting predefined plans in place to protect against it, and this is where L&D has an important role to play.

There are many areas in which L&D can support businesses and their employees to survive in the VUCA world, but there are certain key areas that can offer maximum impact.


Many would argue that leadership has never been more important than it is today. In the face of fatigue and burnout, employees need to remain engaged in the overall vision of the business. They need inspiration, honesty and trust in their leaders. 

In this instance, the role of L&D is to support leaders in developing the right skill set, mindset and tools to bring out the best in their employees. In a V.U.C.A world, leaders also need to be able to empower their managers and team leaders to be able to respond to challenges independently, while remaining in line with the overall vision for the organisation. As a result, the focus of power and responsibility needs to shift from the individual at the top to the levels below who can really lead or react to change. This means training and development for all levels of management. To become inspirational, rather than directorial, leaders need to develop skills in innovation, communication and influencing, so L&D teams need to create the right sort of material to focus on these skills. 

Professional Competence

Having the right staff in the right role, with the right skills, is certainly nothing new when it comes to building a successful business. However, in a VUCA world, on top of these specific core skills, having broader business acumen allows employees to respond swiftly to changes. Clearly, this is only feasible if employees are not only competent in the necessary skills to start with but also have the capability and capacity to take on something new when required. 

L&D’s role is to support a workforce to develop specific role-relevant competencies, but also to provide a broader, more general set of skills in line with the evolving needs of the business. Whether that is a greater understanding of the wider principles of the business, or greater knowledge of business strategy, more of the workforce needs more general skills to be able to adapt and use those innate skills elsewhere.

These include areas such as problem-solving skills, leadership, communication skills, and project management. These are skills that employees would benefit from at all stages of their career, regardless of their specific duties or external factors.

Personal Resilience

If there is anything that is likely to prompt stress responses in employees it’s volatility, uncertainty, complexity or ambiguity in their role. As a result of the VUCA world, caused by so many recent challenges, many organisations are seeing increasing levels of stress and mental ill-health in their workforce, as they strive to manage all the change being thrown at them.

While it’s important that the organisation as a whole works to address and mitigate this, there is an important role for L&D in developing programmes to focus on these specific areas, and equip employees with suitable tools and skills to manage some of these on their own.

The importance of organisational culture in a VUCA world

As well as personal development, resilience and competence, there are some bigger picture areas where L&D have a part to play, and these include the holistic approach the organisation takes towards instilling a company-wide culture.


The culture of an organisation transcends hierarchy or business silo which is often the focus of L&D teams. Creating development pathways within business units or promoting workers to managers has its rewards but for the true resilience, agility and empowerment needed to thrive in a V.U.C.A world, L&D teams must create a behaviour of learning. 

Self-directed learning

The need for rapid skill development necessitates a system that supports this and for many employees, this is taking the form of self-directed learning. During a busy workweek, people seldom have the time to engage in day-long seminars, which many consider outdated. Many prefer bite-sized educational content. Therefore, it’s crucial for L&D functions to be ready and equipped to support their learners in this manner, enabling a learner-led approach that is essential in a VUCA world.

Agile working

Just as learners need to be proactive in their continued learning, L&D teams need to be ahead of the business curve in how it reacts and responds to witnessed or predicted changes. This doesn’t just mean creating new training programmes in response to learner needs, but rather the ability to use available business information to spot trends, make quick decisions, and reallocate resources were necessary in order to be an enabler for personal and organisational growth. 

Unlock the potential of your team with an expert training department.

Learning and Development Apprenticeships will develop skills and confidence to create an effective training framework that can be effectively implemented across your organisation. 

Working closely with Human Resources and other business functions, learning and development apprentices work closely with managers and senior stakeholders to identify ways to improve operational and organisational performance at all levels.

For more information contact one of our experts today. 

City Skills Launches New Coaching Professional Apprenticeship

City Skills, in partnership with education training specialists Olevi, have created a new Coaching Professional Level 5 apprenticeship.  

In a bid to professionalise coaching in schools and wider business settings, the apprenticeship, which can be funded by the apprenticeship levy , has two pathways designed to equip senior teachers and business leaders with the tools and techniques to improve performance and facilitate growth through individual, team and leadership coaching, while also creating the framework to embed a coaching culture within an organisation’s wider practice and approach?

The Coaching Professional Apprenticeship is delivered over fourteen months and ensures coaches working in a variety of organisations can develop the advanced theory, skills and strategies to engage and empower others to enhance their professional performance by building self-belief and encouraging individuals to be self-aware, making them better equipped to collaborate, innovate and deal with daily challenges in the classroom and in business.

Damian Mitchelmore, Managing Director of the OLEVI Alliance explains the ethos behind the new coaching apprenticeship.

“All organisations, whether they are an education setting or a business, are striving to get the best out of their people. Formalised coaching gives them the space to think deeply about how to solve a problem, how to move themselves – and their teams or students -forward, but it also provides a platform for them to be held accountable, be responsible for their progress and that is a key element.”

Coaching empowers others

“This new qualification will develop expert coaches that are able to work with people, in a non-directive way, helping them to learn and grow but importantly, empowering them to be responsible for their own actions. This takes the onus away from leaders, who instead of taking on more and more responsibility empower their teams which actually leads to shared ownership of goals and provides a sense of fulfilment for all parties.”

“The coachee may not know how to solve a problem, that’s ok, but what is important is keeping the responsibility away from the leader or the coach and making them responsible for solving it eventually.”

Coaching describes the process of bringing out the best in others by using key active listening skills and asking probing questions, where the intention is the coachee is responsible for finding solutions rather than being told or led to a certain conclusion. In this way, coaching is a key skill for middle and senior school leaders that support or manage others. Whether the outcome is a change in behaviour, a performance appraisal or the requirement is to develop others for leadership roles, there is a wide spectrum of skills that coaching develops overtime to assist growth on both a personal and professional basis.

Coaching in organisations 

The impact of coaching skills within an organisation is far greater than just the individuals who study the qualification and the coachees they work with. The ripple effect of a coaching culture can be felt throughout the corridors, staff rooms and classrooms of a whole school.

“If we professionalise a group of people in an organisation as coaches, what we typically see is that they use their skills in daily practice, not just in formalised coaching situations, but also in the staff room or the corridor when someone approaches them and says ‘ I don’t know what to do’. Rather than give them the answer, they will empower them to take responsibility to appreciate where they are now, what they want to achieve and how are they going to move forward – and keep moving forward.”

“Coaching is about shifting someone’s mindset so that they believe in growing other people. The Coaching Professional Apprenticeship transforms people into coaches that fundamentally believe the people that they work with can solve their own problems and can grow”, says Damian.

Immediate impact

One of the major benefits of the delivery model for this apprenticeship is that coaches will have the opportunity to engage with people outside of their organisation. This means that senior teachers could be honing their skills, listening and working with business leaders and CEOs of larger companies, learning about very different experiences, which adds to the learning experience and develops a coach’s appreciation of different techniques and contexts.

By the end of their apprenticeship coaches will be competent to work as professional coaches and have developed enough skills not to require further formal training. Throughout the apprenticeship, coaches will be required to work with a range of people, including those that are more senior or identified as challenging within their organisation during a series of formalised coaching sessions. This will establish, not only what they have learned, but also whether they have developed the mindset and embedded the skills required to engage and empower others.

Ultimately, apprentices will be accountable, not just for doing the apprenticeship, but for using their new knowledge, skills and behaviours to achieve a real impact for their organisation.

Says Damian, “Our coaching experts will challenge each learner through professional coaching and training to develop the core skills needed to be a successful leader in a fast-changing digital environment. The success of the programme is measured not only by the skills they gain, but by the impact they have on their organisation.

Professional registration and progression

On completion, the apprentice will be qualified as a Level 5 coaching professional and affiliated to several international accrediting bodies. 

Apprenticeships: Coaching Skills for Senior School Leaders

Every school needs a strong, highly skilled team of senior leaders supporting the head teacher to inspire, lead and sustain improvement across the school.

But, every senior leader working in the current educational landscape is subject to considerable scrutiny and pressure to raise standards and ensure a quality learning experience for all students.

For those that line manage others, it is essential that they have the skills that will have a strong, positive impact on levels of motivation within the staff and improve teaching and learning standards for all. Many of the skills required for this type of impact stem from coaching.
Coaching is a broad term used to describe the process of bringing out the best in others using a two way dialogue where the intention is to involve the coachee in finding solutions through a process of effective questioning and listening. In this way coaching is a key skill for middle and senior school leaders that supports a number of their daily challenges. Whether it is giving difficult feedback, conducting performance management reviews or developing others for leadership roles, there are a wide spectrum of skills that coaching develops over time to assist growth on both a personal and professional basis.

Chris McGeehan, Education Tutor from City Skills, explains why the highly practical Professional Coaching in education apprenticeship Level 5, which specialises in teaching the strategies and techniques for team, group or individual coaching, can help develop the key skills and approaches that will raise engagement and performance levels, in order to create a positive impact on both professional development and student learning and outcomes.

“The purpose of coaching in education settings -and not just for staff but as a teaching method -goes right to the core ethos of pedagogy; what does outstanding practice or outstanding teaching and learning look like?

We know that there are lots of different ways it’s defined around the world; some countries in Asia use long school lectures to embed learning and we can explain the model justify its purpose, but in other cultures, including the UK, we are trying to develop a more independent learning approach within students. We’re not interested in exam factories, so we need to learn how to make other people think and this is what coaching does brilliantly.

From a peer to peer perspective, coaching skills are absolutely fundamental when working with others. In an average school setting, there are so many almost daily interactions with TAs, parents, stakeholders, carers, governors, even Ofsted inspectors and we can make those interactions far more effective. Having coaching skills means we can listen far more effectively, we can direct a conversation and create a space in a given period of time in which someone else can think much more strategically and effectively.

This approach absolutely applies the classroom as well, whether we are working with young people from reception age right through to A-level students. A level of coaching knowledge can improve the richness of the conversations we have that enables both learning in the classroom and colleague collaboration to be far more effective.

Think of the impact a highly trained coach, who has completed 15 months of learning on an apprenticeship with the opportunity to think about the quality of their coaching, the quality of their interactions and how they lead others would have in a school environment. If someone was really listening to teachers, learning about what kind of teacher, or what kind of leader they wanted to be and was facilitating their career growth, that would be phenomenal.

We’ve seen the effect that individual and leadership coaching can have in business over the last 30 years or so, why wouldn’t we apply that to our schools?”

About the Coaching Professional in Education Apprenticeship

This apprenticeship is designed to provide leaders with the tools and techniques to grow the quality of teaching and learning across schools and Multi Academy Trusts. 

As a Professional coach, working in education settings it teaches the latest professional knowledge and skills to empower others to be more responsible for their vocational and professional development across any organisation.

This highly practical apprenticeship is designed to introduce key coaching skills, tools and approaches that can be used in daily roles. It also equips leaders and managers with coaching skills that are vital in supporting colleagues to achieve their personal and departmental goals and targets.

If you are part of a Multi Academy Trust or Local Authority and feel this programme is right for a group of your schools, get in touch

Wrapping Up National Apprenticeship Week 2024: The Path Ahead

As National Apprenticeship Week 2024 draws to a close, it’s time to reflect on the insights shared, stories told, and the future of apprenticeships. Today’s blog will not only wrap up the week’s highlights but also provide resources and next steps for those inspired to embark on or support apprenticeships.

Celebrating a Week of Insights

This week has been an enlightening journey through the world of apprenticeships. We’ve explored the transformative power of apprenticeships in various sectors, heard inspiring stories from both apprentices and employers, and understood the significant role these programs play in shaping careers and businesses alike.

Key Takeaways

  • Diverse Opportunities: Apprenticeships offer a wide range of opportunities across industries, from healthcare to digital marketing, and construction to childcare.
  • Empowerment through Learning: Apprenticeships empower individuals with hands-on experience, bridging the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application.
  • Business Benefits: For employers, apprenticeships are a strategic investment in future talent, fostering innovation and bridging skill gaps.

Resources for Aspiring Apprentices and Employers

Whether you’re considering an apprenticeship or an employer thinking about starting a program, numerous resources are available to guide you:

The Future of Apprenticeships

Looking forward, the landscape of apprenticeships is set to evolve continually. Emerging trends, such as the integration of digital technology and a focus on green skills, are shaping the future of these programs. Staying informed and adaptable will be key for both apprentices and employers.

A Journey Worth Embarking On

As we conclude National Apprenticeship Week 2024, let’s carry forward the spirit of learning, growth, and collaboration that apprenticeships embody. For those embarking on this journey, it promises to be a rewarding path of personal and professional development. For businesses, it’s an opportunity to mould and benefit from a skilled and dynamic workforce.

Remember, the journey in apprenticeships is ongoing. Keep exploring, stay curious, and embrace the opportunities that apprenticeships offer. The future is bright for those who choose to learn, grow, and innovate through apprenticeships.

National Apprenticeship Week 2024