Press release by Grant Thornton – Grant Thornton UK LLP and Cranfield School of Management are pleased to announce a new partnership to develop and deliver the Cranfield Executive MBA programme.

The collaboration aims to address the current management skills gap in the UK and improve productivity by using the Government’s new Apprenticeship Levy to bring scale and wider accessibility to the world-class education offered by the Executive MBA.

Professor Paul Baines, Director of the Cranfield EMBA programme commented: “Our partnership with Grant Thornton is an innovative step in MBA delivery that will see many exciting developments for the programme.

“The Apprenticeship Levy comes into force in April this year and will see all organisations with a pay bill greater than £3m having to pay a 0.5% levy on their pay bill. This money can then be used to fund apprenticeship training for new or existing staff. If they do not spend the money within 24 months, Government will remove the money from the employer’s apprenticeship account. It will be a case of use it or lose it!”

The part-time programme which runs over two years, will offer the best of academic theory, commercial insights and practical application.  Grant Thornton and Cranfield will work with employers impacted by the Apprenticeship Levy who wish to make best use of their contributions and allowance by enrolling high-potential colleagues and investing in up-skilling their talent base.

The Government aims to create 3 million apprenticeships in the private and public sectors by 2020. The Cranfield EMBA has been designed to meet the requirements of the new Level 7 Strategic Leadership Master's Degree Apprenticeship.

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Research shows the UK's economy is facing significant demand for management skills and the potential benefit of up-skilling staff at this level. Seventy one per cent of organisations surveyed admitted they had failed to effectively train first-time managers, whilst management and leadership development led to a 23% increase in organisational performance and a 32% increase in people performance amongst surveyed companies.

Sacha Romanovitch, CEO of Grant Thornton UK LLP, commented: "Developing the skills and knowledge of managers in organisations is critical to ensure we can drive productivity and growth and ensure sustainable, long term results. We have listened to the market and based on our insight of what makes truly great leaders, we have helped develop a curriculum that responds to the needs of modern, dynamic organisations. Naturally, the programme is challenging and will stretch even the brightest minds, encouraging future leaders to explore new areas and push out of their comfort zone.

"This collaboration brings to bear the very best of the academic and commercial worlds and sits at the heart of our purpose of helping to shape a vibrant economy by building trust and integrity in markets, unlocking growth in dynamic organisatons, and creating environments where business and people thrive. Through this MBA programme we will develop a distinctive community of individuals that have the skills, know-how and confidence to stand out from the crowd through their ability to lead innovation, deliver social impact and empower their people to drive optimum results."

Professor Lynette Ryals Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Education at Cranfield University commented: “With the emphasis of apprenticeships on the practical application of knowledge, they are an excellent strategic fit for Cranfield. We were the first University in the UK to offer degree apprenticeships at Master’s level (Cranfield MastershipsTM) and we are delighted to be working with Grant Thornton to provide companies with the opportunity to develop their senior leaders to prepare for the management challenges of tomorrow.”