Starting a university course is a huge undertaking in itself without having to juggle studies with a job, childcare and life in lockdown too. But apprentices programmes which started in April 2020 are doing just that, supported by lecturers, their employers and De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) apprenticeships team.Normally, apprentices would have their induction in the classroom, as shown in this pictureSome 27 apprentices have started the Senior Leader Executive MBA and MSc management apprenticeships both delivered by academics from DMU’s Leicester Castle Business School. DMU has moved the whole programme online during the pandemic, including the two-day induction.Instead of meeting each other face to face, the new cohort’s met virtually on Blackboard Collaborate in sessions run by Lego Serious Play certified coach Julia Reeve.Lego Serious Play is used by businesses around the world to help staff explore new ways of tackling problems and communicate ideas. Julia, a DMU Teacher Fellow, said her online session helped spark connections and conversations.She said: “We talked about what they were looking forward to most, and their biggest challenge and I think that helped them to establish some commonality as people could see they were not the only one feeling that way. “Having everyone’s faces on screen helped to create a connection and sense of community even though they could not meet each other in person. They were able to share stories and learn a bit more about each other.”The new cohort’s come from a range of companies including procurement giant ESPO, the NHS, local authorities and design consultancies.Both courses are taught at postgraduate level to support the professional development of leaders in private, public and third sector organisations, such as senior managers or directors. Both are accredited by the Chartered Management Institute. Chris Odindo, interim programme director for the senior leaders’ programme said: “"This year's apprenticeship cohort are arguably dealing with more than most - not only are they juggling work and study but they have the uncertainty of lockdown, childcare duties and learning purely on line. "In addition, some in the cohort hold senior positions and as such are part of the senior teams leading their organisation’s responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, something that undoubtedly adds more work pressure on them. “Yet they have shown enthusiasm during our recent induction session carried out entirely online.”
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