Working in partnership
Balancing the learning and development needs of thousands of staff across a multi-national engineering organisation is no mean feat. Yet this is the challenge that Babcock International Group has embraced and its success in this is achieved through the provision of a range of development opportunities, career pathways and structured programmes delivered both internally and externally through partner relationships with providers. Strathclyde has been fortunate enough to be an integral partner, working with Babcock over many years both across our Faculty of Engineering as well as Strathclyde Business School and particularly their specialist Strathclyde Executive Education and Development (SEED) team.
Since the launch of the first Babcock International Group Academy in 2005 and expansion into bespoke courses, Strathclyde Business School has worked closely with Babcock to provide management development programmes to over 1,000 managers. Now with a new CEO at the helm, employee development is higher on the agenda than ever before as Chief Executive, David Lockwood highlights:
Now, more than ever, Babcock needs the most effective leaders managing our business into the future and, as such, we have a responsibility to invest in our people throughout their careers.
That investment and commitment to employee development has been demonstrated in the relaunch of the Babcock Leadership Academy in October 2020, which offers a range of development pathways and programmes, many supported by the apprenticeship levy funding, to broaden organisational capability at all levels.
Babcock acknowledges it is changing and to support the wider organisation and culture, there is a clear recognition and focus on driving productivity, expanding capability across the organisation and developing their leaders of the future.
As Craig Smith, Head of Learning and Talent emphasises:
Whilst there is a lot of change occurring across the business, we know that must continue to develop line managers and future leaders, supporting them to facilitate that change – it cannot only be driven at the executive or C-suite level. We are developing capability from team leader level straight through to Executive level and that is what the Babcock Leadership Academy will allow us to do.
Pathways for Professional Development
For Babcock, the apprenticeship levy has supported both the extension of their partnership approach with providers to develop their employees and also to expand the creation and delivery of useful, practical, ‘on the job’ education programmes in a truly collaborative way. Funding has been utilised efficiently to broaden the spectrum of employees being given the opportunity to develop whilst remaining in the workplace and quickly transferring their learning into real life.
Apprenticeship degree programmes are to play an integral part in Babcock’s future skills development plan and through a range of professional career pathways, they are supporting both professional and personal development throughout all levels of the organisation.
Developing work based degrees
Strathclyde is currently one of very few Scottish Universities who have expanded their apprenticeship degree portfolio delivering work based apprenticeship programmes in both Scotland and England.
Strathclyde’s ability to deliver Degree Apprenticeships for English based employees has enabled a seamless continuation of the strong existing partnership in executive education development and delivery between SEED and Babcock. Through a close partnership approach, the Babcock Senior Leaders MBA Degree Apprenticeship was designed to meet their organisational needs, providing developmental opportunities are available to Managers and Directors who demonstrate the potential to fulfil executive roles in the future.
With the emphasis on work based learning and practical application of knowledge into the workplace, is vitally important to both Babcock and SEED that participants are supported in delivering the work-based elements and maximise their contribution to the degree.
Dr Phil Considine, Director of SEED commented:
We were delighted to launch Strathclyde’s first DA programme in collaboration with one of our longest-standing partners, Babcock International Group. At Strathclyde we pride ourselves on being ‘the place of useful learning’ and this follows through to our offering within SEED where we firmly believe applied and experiential learning. Our collaborative approach to delivery and assessment, with a strong focus on work-based learning, ensures that participants see the practical application of their academic learning and embed this into their practice. This application of learning allows the programme to develop participants knowledge, skills and behaviours whilst supporting Babcock to achieve its future objectives.
Work based learning in action
Whilst participants develop their skills and apply their learning on the job, it is evident to Babcock that the strong work-based elements integrated into the degree apprenticeship equate to real value being delivered back into the business.
Craig Smith acknowledges this work-based study coupled with the high level of support and personal coaching provided both from Babcock’s Business Mentors and via SEED’s dedicated Academic Mentor drives this success:
The level of coaching really helps the participants translate their learning into the workplace and apply that learning much quicker.
For the participants themselves, the ability and opportunity to apply their new knowledge, skills and behaviors into their daily professional practice delivers a higher level of appreciation and understanding of the business in which they operate. Their feedback alone speaks volumes of the value-add that the work-based learning elements brings to a degree programme.
The SLMDA has been both a challenging and an incredibly rewarding experience. The programme focuses on practical application of the theory both within Babcock and other leading global organisations. It has allowed me to network with colleagues across the organisation, coupled with regular Guest Speakers by senior leaders within Babcock. This collaborative approach has allowed me to understand how fundamental areas of the business work both within my part of the organisation and the wider Babcock entity.
Chris Spicer, Director Future Support Bids, Babcock International Group
As part of their degree programme, participants also reflect on their own learning journey, creating an ePortfolio of evidence throughout their studies at Strathclyde. This is used not only to develop participants’ skillsets, but can also be used for relevant Professional Body accreditation upon completion of their degree programme - an aspect that participants embrace as part of their learning, as highlighted by current participant Johannah Paget, Head of Business Support, Babcock International Group.
The SLMDA provides a dynamic learning experience using a range of teaching methods to develop your independent thinking. The programme enables you to not just build your fundamental skills but provides you with the support to reflect on your knowledge and develop your approach as a leader of the future.
It is these layered benefits of an apprenticeship degree that not only deliver exceptional value for an employer, but also for participants who experience a more enriched degree experience where application of knowledge to real-life scenarios can be immediate and professional development can be achieve in parallel to an academic award.
As Babcock continue with their strong commitment to employee learning and development, now bolstered by their Leadership Academy, work based apprenticeships and professional pathways, the business is growing and strengthening its future skills and capabilities.