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Case Study: University of Nottingham – Implementing and Using Aptem Apprentice

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The University of Nottingham signed up to Aptem Apprentice in June 2019 and used it to manage their degree apprenticeship programmes from September 2019. In this case study, we talk about their journey of implementation and how Aptem Apprentice is improving their administration and delivery.

The University of Nottingham has been delivering degree apprenticeships since 2018. Starting with a cohort of eight on the Level 7 Advanced Clinical Practitioner degree apprenticeship, the University now offers five programmes – three at Level 7 and two at Level 6 – with two new Level 6 programmes in development. Nottingham has an innovative subject offering, including apprenticeships in architecture, Senior Leadership, bioinformatics and data science.

A growing apprenticeship programme

Along with the growth in programmes has been the growth in apprenticeship personnel, from two individuals to eight. And as the programmes have expanded, so have the number of apprentices. Scott Hill, Degree Apprenticeship Officer, explained that they needed a system that could handle multiple learners without an additional burden of administration and delivery:

“With the growth in programmes, we also had more apprentices, so we needed a system to help us monitor compliance, progress, off-the-job hours and just a way to flag issues as necessary. In the University, we have a central apprenticeship team, which is the eight people I mentioned. Then degree apprenticeships sit within the school itself, which has a programme director and personal tutors to support the apprentices and assess evidence they submit for off-the-job hours and so on. Not only do apprenticeships pose very different demands for universities, but there are also many stakeholders in our apprenticeships.”

The University went through a procurement process and chose Aptem Apprentice. Aptem Apprentice was chosen, says Maxine Insley, Senior Project Manager with IT Change Delivery overseeing the implementation of Aptem Apprentice, because it had the end-to-end management of the apprenticeship journey, employment management features, and the “promise of integration with the University’s student record system” – a project that is still ongoing.

Implementing Aptem Apprentice

The University implemented Aptem Apprentice quickly. The contract was signed in June 2019 and three programmes needed to be built by September 2019. Says Hill:

“We’ve done quite a lot in a short amount of time, and we are still finding our feet with some of it!”

The implementation consultant was Vikki Ivan. The University praised the responsiveness of the consultant during the implementation process.

“She was a really great person,” said Ruth Eccles, Head of Professional and Workplace Learning. “Knowledgeable and very accommodating.  She visited us when we asked and was always available to provide advice and guidance over the phone.”

The University team also had access to a test site (and still do), which allows them to learn as well as test out options. Said Hill:

“We have access to two sites – a live site and a test site. One of the big benefits was the access you gave us to the test site, which has been absolutely invaluable. We can see it from all perspectives. We can create learner accounts, employment accounts, admin accounts and from that we’ve created things like user guides and so on. You can use it to find out what works for your programmes.”

The benefits of Aptem Apprentice

Although the University of Nottingham has only been using Aptem Apprentice for a short time, says Hill, the team are starting to see the benefits. These are:

  • Moving from paper-based applications to Aptem Apprentice: “Rather than have someone apply via a paper application, and then we have to transfer all their details into Aptem Apprentice – including the ILR – we now get them to put all their details straight into Aptem Apprentice and upload any necessary documents. The programme director can log onto Aptem Apprentice, assess the application and suitability, and take it from there, which saves a lot of time.”
  • Creating and generating reports about apprenticeship progress: “We send monthly reports based on the user generic report tile, and we send that out to the programme directors once a month, so they are aware of how all their apprentices are doing. Although it’s relatively small numbers now, it’ll be really useful when numbers increase. Having that top-level overview of all the apprentices and ability to customise those reports is great as well.”
  • Holding information about tripartite reviews in Aptem Apprentice, so they are all in one place.
  • ILR functionality: “Incredibly invaluable. My colleague, Chelsie Rogers, generates the ILR batch file and submits that. Before, we had to do that manually, which was time-consuming. So it’s absolutely amazing to be able to go on and check the date is correct and we can generate a single ILR batch. I can see it’ll save us a lot of time in the future too.”
  • Verifying hours for placements and workshops.
  • Creating groups and being able to separate them at programme and cohort level, and then run reports on these.
  • Creating programmes in Aptem Apprentice: “It is quite flexible in what you can do, though sometimes when you are given too much flexibility, you don’t know where to start! But if we aren’t sure about something, we can run it through a test to see what it looks like from the learner perspective, and that’s important for clarity. It’s our learning platform.”
  • The Aptem HE User Group Forum: “Being able to speak to the Aptem HE User Group Forum has been exceptionally useful to get input and share best practice.”

Words of advice

The Nottingham team are pleased with what Aptem Apprentice can offer, particularly as their programmes and learners grow. Eccles has the following advice for other universities:

“Have a good lead-in time, so you aren’t rushed. Prepare for implementation by having the right expertise in-house and be prepared to learn about the system by reading user guides early on and scheduling demonstrations. Involve stakeholders within the University – programme directors, tutors and learners – in the process and work as a team.

“Use the test site to find out what works for you and your programme. Have dedicated people for Aptem Apprentice who are familiar with the system so that your institution has someone to go to for support.”

The University has ambitious plans for growth, with apprentices consisting of 10% of the undergraduate cohort and every faculty having five apprenticeship programmes up and running by 2025. We are pleased Nottingham have chosen Aptem Apprentice to help with their journey.

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