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Welcome to my blog..


...and welcome to my musings about starting my own business, apprenticeships and early career programmes as a whole. I will update this with my thoughs on each of these as well as keeping you up to date on what is going on in Morgan Manley.

By Sasha, Apr 25 2016 12:55PM

Since starting Morgan Manley on the 5th January I have hit the ground running and spent the first 3 months working on a project for Lloyds Banking Group. The project involved working alongside the Emerging Talent Team to create content for a really exciting and innovate site called Discover What Matters, that can be found at www.discoverwhatmatters.co.uk, but I also had the opportunity to work on projects outside of this scope too.

The aim of the Discover What Matters site feeds into Lloyds Banking Group’s vision to ‘Help Britain Prosper’ and is a place where young people (aged 15-24) can go to help them make decisions about their next steps. This may be going to uni, applying for an apprenticeship or starting a job, but the site is designed to give objective advise to allow the audience to work out what matters to them and what they want to do next. While in this age bracket it can be really difficult to differentiate between what matters to you and what matters to your friends, family and teachers, so this site offers a one-stop-shop for young people to explore all the options available to them and hear some objective advice from grads and apprentices who have been in their position recently, before making their decisions.

It is not all about the future however as it also shares topical advice and guidance on how to make the most of what they are going through now, whether this be relocating, starting uni or work, revising for exams or competing application forms and preparing for interview. To do this, the site is home to a range of tools including quizzes, case studies, information sharing articles, and helpful hints and tips on current topics like building employability skills, how to make the most of exam revision and the best ways to prepare for interview. It also has advice for parents, lessons plans for teachers and insights into topical discussions that are taking place around education, apprenticeships or the employment sector as a whole. To ensure the content stays relevant to the audience and is regularly updated there is a different theme each month and new quotes and tips added each week.

My role in all of this was to create the strategy for the site, write the content for the articles and work with the grads and apprentices within Lloyds Banking Group to collate case studies to pass on their advice on a range of topics. The project was really exciting and I personally found the best part to be engaging with the grads and apprentices and hearing their stories. This had a knock on effect and I was also asked to work with a select few grads and apprentices to create a working party to share an ongoing insight into their daily lives on Twitter. So far they are doing brilliantly and you can see all the tweets that have been retweeted at @LBGTalent. I love following what other people get up to day to day and I also think it is really helpful for potential applicants to get an insight into what it is ‘really like’ to work for an organisation. In addition to this I was able to draw on my love of PowerPoint to create 3 masterclasses for the Emerging Talent Team to deliver to a group of undergraduates who want to boost their employability chances over summer.

It was a fantastic first project to be involved in and I am very happy with the outcome. At first I wondered what the working relationships would be like but there was no need to worry as within a week I felt like part of the Emerging Talent Team and they trusted me to get on with what I had been tasked to do and gave me the space to advise on what I thought was best and run with it. There is always so much going on within orgainisations as large as Lloyds Banking Group, and they are always thinking of new ways to build on the emerging talent programmes that they have, so hopefully we will be able to work together again in the future.

By Sasha, Feb 5 2016 12:10PM

You have probably heard about the apprenticeship levy as it is the slightly controversial part of the governments’ vision to create 3 million apprenticeships by 2020.

The levy means that any business that pays over £3million through payroll per annum will need to pay 0.5% of this total amount to the government. The levy is due to be introduced in April 2017 and the money will be used to fund apprenticeship training across the UK. It is expected that the money raised by this will create an additional £3billion to put towards apprentice training by 2020 and that £2.5billion of this will be spent on apprenticeships in England.

All employers with a payroll bill over £3million will need to pay this levy but companies can claim back some or all of the money that they contribute so long as they spend it on approved apprentice training. This pot of money will also be made available to smaller employers who will not be paying into the levy and they are able to claim up to £15k per annum. The rules are quite specific and state the the money is only available to be spent on training apprentices on an approved apprenticeship standard (the full list of approved standards can be seen here) and cannot be used for subsidiary reasons such as internal training or apprenticeship salaries. This will hopefully encourage more businesses to take on apprentices whilst ensuring the the training being delivered is at a high standard.

It may surprise you to learn that, even though the benefits of apprenticeship programmes are obvious, many of the large employers who will need to pay into the levy do not have apprentice programmes in place...yet! I think that you will see this change between now and 2017 and I for one am hoping to help business in in this situation to a) claw back some of their money and b) realise the incredible benefits that an apprentice can bring to their business. An apprenticeship is not solely a ‘school leaver programme’ as they can be used to train staff of all ages and, crucially, can be used for the training of existing staff within an organisation. With programmes ranging from level 2 to level 6 (and even talk of Masters level 7 programmes) there are so many ways that businesses can train their staff through this route!

There are still some details to be clarified by the government and some questions to be answered (such as exactly how and when the payments will be taken and how employers will actually draw down the money from the government in practice) and so you can expect to see more talk about this in the papers until the levy is introduced in April 2017!

By Sasha, Jan 5 2016 12:08PM

All new adventures have something a little bit scary about them but with the launch of Morgan Manley I can honestly say that I am more excited than nervous. Of course there were a few butterflies in my tummy when I sat down this morning with an overwhelming sense of 'where do I begin' but I feel more confident than ever that this is the right thing for me to do.

I am not always this confident and so I have been trying to pin point why I feel like this and I think that the main reason is because I am so passionate, and belive so whole-heartedly, in what Morgan Manley has been set up to do that I cannot allow it to be anything other than a success! Young people are the future of the UK and young people with energy, passion and enthusiasm are going to be the leaders of our future. Having worked with apprentices for the last 4 years, I know first hand how they can transform businesses while out-performing even their own expectations and so I really do believe that there is a gap in the market for somoene to help organisations to capitalise on the skills of these young people through the right training and support.

It has long been said that the benefits of apprentice programmes are evident; businesses will vouch for how apprentices have added to their bottom line, the facts show that apprentice retention is much higher than other forms of junior talent, and the government are offering to fund (at least part of) the training that apprentices need to learn their roles. But why do businesses struggle? Although the business case for apprentices may be clear it is easier said than done to get these young peope embedded into a business. It is important to find the right training provider to partner with and it is important to bring apprentices in at the right level. Even with the right provider in place however it is essentail to create the right environment to allow the apprentice to be successful, to communicate with them in a way that gets them engaged with the business, and to put the necessary personal development steps in place for them. This is all before we start to look at the complexities around governemnt funding. Through my experince I know that I can work with businesses to naviagate this journey with them to deliver a complete package that sees apprentices adding value to their organisation, without the business having to spend the time learning this new landscape from scratch!

Yes passion and an understanding of the landscape are important, but this isn't all that I have behind me. For such a long time I sat back getting frustrated that there was no service that I could point interested businesses to to help them create the right apprenticeships for their needs or create the right channels of communication to get young people excited about their company. I was watching this time and time again and sensing a growing need for something to happen, but it was my family who finally said, 'well are you going to do it or not?' All the cards in my newly created office act as a contact reminder of the fantastic people who belive in me so not only do I feel really passionate about what I am doing and know the market, but I also have an incredible network of collegues, friend and family who want me to succeed.

So bring on 2016, Bring on Morgan Manley and, in the words of my best friend, 'it's time to let [my] sparkle shine!’

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