Anne Ashworth: Head of Pearson's Employee Apprenticeship programme.

After over 30 years in the sector as a practitioner, senior manager, consultant and Ofsted Additoinal Inspector Anne joined Pearson in December 2016.  Anne heads up Pearson's Employee Apprenticeship programme.  Anne has run her own successful consultancy company for over 17 years and has focused much of her work on supporting large companies and Corporates on the implementation and improvement of their apprenticeship programmes. She has used this experience to develop a fully integrated apprenticeship programme within the Pearson UK business.



As a business we have set a target of 5% of our English workforce on an apprenticeship by 2020.  This equates to around 100 apprentices a year across the various Divisions either joining the business as apprentices or undertaking an apprenticeship as an existing employee. The apprenticeship programme is totally aligned through our Apprenticeship Strategy to our corporate objectives, business plans, company systems and processes. 


We have developed a robust and integrated approach with apprenticeships a natural part of HR Business Partner work with business units and employees in terms of planning, performance review, talent management and career planning.  We have maximised the opportunities that degree apprenticeships bring to the business as part of our corporate learning and development offer to both new apprentices and internal members of staff. This approach provides greater inclusivity and mobility for our existing and new staff into the business.


In line with our Equality policies we made a commitment that all of our apprentices will be treated as any other permanent employees, that their apprenticeship would be treated as a ‘training role’.  Managers understand the importance of the roles for workforce development and provide the expected support and guidance inclusive of the structured 20% off the job training.


To ensure that we were ready for implementation by 2 May we set up a Steering Committee and a project team of specialists across the business. It had senior management involvement and Leadership Team sponsorship.  Through this approach we integrated the apprenticeship processes into ‘business as usual’ with systems and processes and tweaked where required. Our global recruitment and HR systems needed adjusting to enable reporting at all points of contact with candidates and then apprenticeship employees.  This required a lead-in time and also a detailed specification along with knowledge transfer sessions.  Through the assistance of the technical experts in the business this was successfully achieved on time


Communication throughout the business has been vital in setting up the programme so we have delivered range of ‘awareness raising’ sessions, developed toolkits, visual process flowcharts and social media communication to keep people informed.  We used this approach to train our HRBPs on conducting guidance interviews with managers and staff and used specialist input from our training partners on how to identify the correct standard or framework for a job role and individual.

Where are we now?

We will have approximately 100 apprentices in 2017 of which 30 started in May the remainder starting in July and October.  We have developed a pipeline of interested staff and line managers for both this year and next.  We commence our degree apprenticeships in October and have 6 externally recruited apprenticeship roles in addition to 6 internal.


Our training partners have already started to work with our apprentices and have worked closely with managers, mentors, senior managers and apprentices to plan out the formal workshops and the remainder of the 20% off the job requirements.  We have a delivery model for each apprenticeship we are running and by the end of the year will be delivering over 15 different standards and frameworks from level 2 to level 6.