Sheffield Hallam University

Fuelled by a desire to improve the future of the logistics industry, Clipper wanted to develop a relationship with a UK university with the aim of building collaboration to develop the workforce, both now and in the future. Sheffield Hallam University was selected as Clipper’s preferred partner, and using government apprenticeship funding, Clipper and Sheffield Hallam University created the ‘Clipper Degree’.

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The Challenge

As the logistics industry evolves, and retailers demand ever-innovative services to respond to the latest shifts in consumer behaviour, logistics is seeing a distinct shortage of future leaders entering the sector and the need for developing and retaining talent is on the rise. Add to this, Brexit, Britain’s departure from the EU, filled with planned immigration restrictions and taking with it many European workers. Clipper believes that the training and development of their people benefits not only them, but Clipper as a business, and as such, Clipper wanted to develop a programme that was available to school leavers, those just entering the industry, as well as existing employees.

The Solution

Clipper responded to these issues with a forward-thinking solution, and in 2018, launched a management degree apprenticeship programme with the Institute of Leadership and Management at Sheffield Hallam University, specialising in leadership and supply chain management. Over the course of three and a half years, Clipper promised to educate the next generation of students in line with emerging technologies and a cutting-edge curriculum, to guarantee the highest quality of professional development.

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The Result

In September 2018, 15 individuals embarked on the management degree apprenticeship programme with the Institute of Leadership and Management at Sheffield Hallam University. Delivered over three and a half years, the apprentices spend the vast majority of their time in the workplace, attending university for three or four days at a time, approximately six times per year. 13 of the participants were school leavers, whilst 2 senior managers from the business also took part, having never had the opportunity to complete a degree or obtain a formal qualification previously. The leadership skills covered in the programme benefit both new starters and existing management.

Working within Clipper’s logistics network and interacting with key customers, which include some of the biggest names in retail such as Asda, John Lewis, ASOS, M&S and PrettyLittleThing, the apprentices study towards a BA (Hons) Professional Practice in Management as part of the Chartered Management Degree Apprenticeship. The programme facilitates the application of the latest academic thinking within the workplace, and teaches participants the fundamentals of day-to-day activity within their designated business area. In addition to constant learning and skills development, participants have monthly reviews to track progress and help identify focus areas. The aim is for the participant to be a fully immersed member of the team and gain first-hand experience at every step.

Within the first six-months of the programme, Clipper saw two promotions which would have only been expected after a minimum of 12-months, providing insight into the success Clipper expects as the programme moves from year to year.

Following the first cohort, Clipper worked with Sheffield Hallam University to make amendments in the first six-months to the way in which individuals participating were mentored and coached, to ensure they received the support required to succeed. The second cohort commenced in January 2020, where 17 individuals joined the programme, 11 of whom are school leavers, whilst 6 senior managers from the business are also taking part. The course itself was also amended to a supply chain focus, moving from the CMDA to the BA Supply Chain Leadership. Following the first module, it was identified that 2 of the experienced managers should progress immediately to the level 7 MBA apprenticeship programme, which they will now commence in Sept 2020 with Sheffield Hallam University.

March 2020 saw lockdown hit, and the team quickly and seamlessly transitioned to online learning, and through the use of technology, students still had access to lectures and seminars with results being on-par with those of previous years.

Clipper is now recruiting for its third cohort, which is due to start in September 2020. The programme is being advertised both internally and externally, including on the government apprenticeship website, specifically targeting school leavers who would like the opportunity to learn on-the-job and are interested in a career in logistics. By implementing this programme in partnership with Sheffield Hallam University, Clipper expects to improve the future of logistics with a significantly more knowledgeable intake of candidates boasting real-world experience.