“Apprenticeships grow up” – Pablo Lloyd

Pablo Lloyd is the CEO and co-founder of Activate Apprenticeships and Activate Business School. In his fourth opinion piece, Pablo talks about the preconceptions of apprenticeships.


They are like A-levels, for people who find A-levels too hard.”

This is what I recently heard a parent say about apprenticeship. Let’s face it, many people still hold this prejudice. Even well-intentioned leaders talk uninspiringly about reaching ‘parity of esteem’ with academic qualifications.

It’s time for apprenticeships to grow up. Not to compare themselves with their academic sibling, but to have their own ambition.

Many years ago I did a degree and followed it with something which would now be called an apprenticeship; three years of work and study leading to a professional qualification. Looking back, the difference is very clear – the degree taught me how to study, the apprenticeship taught me how to work. They each have their value, but they should not be measured on the same scale.

Any prejudices about apprenticeships stem from our narrow view of intelligence.

IQ scores and exam grades are still common currencies. Daniel Goleman popularised emotional intelligence 20 years ago, but I have yet to see a CV or LinkedIn profile with an EQ score alongside academic qualifications. That is why recruitment processes are less focused on exam grades. They are more focused on evidence of positive behaviours, teamwork and practical problem-solving.

Apprenticeships not only develop a specialist skill set, but also the behaviours required by employers.

Let’s appreciate them for what they are, a mark of practical intelligence and applied craft.

Take a look at Pablo’s previous thought pieces here.

The next industrial revolution is in young people’s imaginations

Pablo Lloyd is the CEO and co-founder of Activate Apprenticeships and Activate Business School. In his third opinion piece, Pablo talks about preparing for industry 5.0.

I sent my first email over the web 21 years ago when desktop computing had become a common industrial tool. That was the early days of the digital revolution, Industry 3.0.

Artificial Intelligence brings us the next revolution, Industry 4.0.

It is well underway – from advanced manufacturing to conversations with Alexa, Einstein, and other AI entities in our homes and boardrooms.

Previous industrial revolutions, based on steam, electricity and fossil fuels in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, each took about 100 years to transform how we live and work. But the cycle is getting shorter – Industry 3.0 took less than 30 years.

So as educators and responsible employers, how should we prepare young people for the next 50 years of work?

How do we prepare them for Industry 5.0 when we don’t know what it will be?

When I ask our business clients what they look for in new recruits, they tell me they are becoming less interested in qualifications and more interested in creativity and the ability to learn. Young people are more specific, they talk about becoming algae engineers, age reversing scientists and music therapists.

Our education system is starting to change. An example is Activate Learning’s colleges, schools and training providers now designing ‘attributes’ into our curriculum. Attributes like confidence, enterprise, resilience, and creativity are core learning, not just by-products of a rounded education.

The next industrial revolution is in young people’s imaginations. Our job is to nurture behaviours which will create it and adapt to it.

What part are you playing in Industry 5.0?


Take a look at Pablo’s previous opinion piece “Learning is good for your ‘elf” here.

‘Learning is good for your ‘elf’ – Pablo Lloyd

elfPablo Lloyd is the CEO and co-founder of Activate Apprenticeships and Activate Business School. In his second opinion piece, Pablo here talks about his thoughts on giving learning as a gift.

My mother was 79 years old when she completed her first degree in English Literature at Birkbeck, University of London. She loved learning and was inspired to go on and teach GCSE students well into her 80s.

Advances in neuroscience show us that the brain develops physically throughout our lives. Smart as they were, the ancient Greeks were wrong about the brain. Aristotle likened it to a wax tablet which starts warm and pliable as a baby, becoming cold and inflexible as an adult. In fact, by using and challenging the brain it warms up and gets better at learning.

If you are looking for an unusual Christmas present or want to treat yourself, what about a learning gift?

Here are my ten favourites:

  1. Learn about Artificial Intelligence at www.ted.com/playlists/310/talks_on_artificial_intelligen
  2. Try spoon carving at www.barnthespoon.com or annacasserley.co.uk/about
  3. Find out about the latest scientific discoveries by subscribing to www.newscientist.com
  4. Embrace your creativity and use Oblique Strategies cards from www.enoshop.co.uk
  5. Give mindfulness a go with the app from www.headspace.com
  6. Enjoy art by joining a group of galleries www.tate.org.uk
  7. Learn welding at www.obby.co.uk
  8. Learn beekeeping and more at www.idler.co.uk
  9. Learn about organisational success and read Black Box Thinking by Matthew Syed
  10. Learn calligraphy www.thepostmansknock.com/beginners-guide-modern-calligraphy/

Of course, there are limits. My mother succumbed to dementia in her late 90s, but she lived to be 100 and inspired three generations to pursue their curiosity and creativity.

Who will you inspire this month?

Take a look at Pablo’s previous opinion piece “The productivity problem is in the boardroomhere.

‘The productivity problem is in the boardroom’ – Pablo Lloyd

Pablo Lloyd is the CEO and co-founder of Activate Apprenticeships and Activate Business School. He has led innovation in training and education for nearly 20 years. He is a Trustee of WorldSkills UK and an alumnus of London Business School. Pablo here talks about his thoughts on how to solve the problem of the UK’s productivity.

UK productivity has been an economic problem for over 20 years, stubbornly behind G7 competitors.

That’s hard to believe when I visit the factory floor of some of our advanced manufacturing clients like BMW and Lander Automotive. Here it’s second nature to avoid waste, increase outputs and train teams in business improvement.

We can learn a lot from these globally competitive businesses.

A client in a service industry recently asked us to help them create a culture of excellence asking ‘how do we make sure our teams focus on the right things?’. We soon worked out the answer; to change behaviours in the boardroom, by helping leaders become more influential with each other and with their teams.

We know that improving the knowledge, skills, and behaviours of leaders has a multiplier effect on performance.

While the UK has historically under-invested in leadership development, that has started changing since May 2017. The government pays for 90-100% of the cost of structured training in an approved apprenticeship programme. ‘Apprentices’ can include experienced managers developing their skills, up to and including MBA programmes. This is good news for the productivity of the UK.

Activate Business School specialises in practical leadership and management development and is approved to deliver apprenticeship programmes. Contact us on 01865 551 015 to find out more.

Staff celebrate success at away day

Colleagues from across the Activate Enterprise team gathered at Reading College last Friday (21 October) for its latest staff away day, celebrating success across the organisation.

The event saw staff – as well as business partners from Activate Learning – gather to look at how the soon-to-be introduced Apprenticeship Levy will create opportunities for Activate Enterprise and budding apprentices from across the Thames Valley.

In addition, the event was also a chance for the organisation to honour colleagues from across all areas of Activate Enterprise, with several staff being awarded a limited edition ‘Purple Pin’ – part of its peer-to-peer recognition scheme, acknowledging outstanding achievement.

Award winners at the latest event were assessor Jacqueline Cash, client manager and PA Stephanie Graham, administrator Ciera Kent and assessor Alan Vallis – each rewarded for valuable contributions across the organisation over the past three months.

For more information on work opportunities with Activate Enterprise, head to our ‘work for us‘ page.

Finding apprenticeship talent at the Oxford Mail Job Fair

Earlier this week (Thursday), we were delighted to be at the Oxford Mail Job Fair, talking with young people from across Oxfordshire about our current apprenticeship opportunities.

With over 1,000 vacancies available each year – as well as working alongside over 2,000 businesses to deliver a variety of apprenticeships, from catering and hospitality right through to team leadership and management – we met with dozens of people at Oxford Town Hall to talk to them about the benefits of apprenticeships.

See what the event was all about here and take a look at our latest vacancies.

Awards presented to Employer and Apprentice of the Year

The winners of the Employer and Apprentice of the Year Awards, Teresa Walsh and Oluwaseun Alabi, were presented with their awards at a special ceremony today.

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What is the difference between management and leadership?

Does it really matter, or is it just semantics?

You cannot hope to lead or manage effectively without understanding the difference between management and leadership.

There are many views about the relationship between Leadership and Management, both in text books and in the cultures of different organisations. Some see the two terms as interchangeable, while others argue that management is simply part of the role of the leader. Others believe that management is key, with leadership playing a part in that role. So what exactly is the difference between management and leadership and does it matter?

John Kotter, Professor of Leadership at Harvard Business School, argues that “…leadership and management are two distinctive and complementary systems of action. Each has its own function and characteristic activities. Both are necessary for organisational success.”

ILM Find Out More

Carl Welte, a certified management consultant with over 30 years experience, defines management as “…the mental and physical effort to coordinate diverse activities to achieve desired results”. In contrast, he sees leadership as “…natural and learned ability, skill and personal characteristics to conduct interpersonal relations which influence people to take desired actions”.

It could be stated that management is about doing the right things; leadership is about doing things right.

Balancing management and leadership

One of the most challenging aspects of leadership is achieving the right balance between transactional (managing) and transformational (leading). In reality, it is a multi-dimensional process of adjusting and adapting to the changing conditions and the changing personalities of those you lead. The principal role of a manager is to achieve the organisation’s objectives. Managers do this by managing (1) themselves, (2) activities, (3) resources, (4) information and (5) people. However, leadership can also be seen as relevant to these five roles. Who doesn’t need to effectively lead themselves? What manager can achieve their objectives alone? Even without a team of direct reports, they still need to influence other people in order to meet their objectives. Good management is about achieving results through other people. It’s about influencing behaviour towards the achievement of organisational behaviour. This is what we call leadership.

Find out more with an ILM qualification

There is no silver bullet to great leadership and management, but there are sound principles you can learn and adopt. Activate Enterprise is an accredited ILM Centre and is running an Open ILM Level 3 programme, starting on 11th November in Oxford. Find out more here>>

Are you an “extraordinary” boss?

Everyone wants an extraordinary boss, but what does that really look like? Jeff Haden, contributing editor for Inc.com, posts an excellent article on 10 things extraordinary bosses give to their employees.

  1. Autonomy and independence
  2. Clear expectations
  3. Meaningful objectives
  4. A true sense of purpose
  5. Opportunities to provide significant input
  6. A real sense of connection
  7. Consistency
  8. Private criticism
  9. Public praise
  10. A chance for a meaningful future

These 10 points provide a helpful “Leadership Checklist” that you can quickly review. Why not simply score each attribute from 1-10 as a way of identifying how extraordinary you are? For more information on what these mean, you can read Jeff’s full article.

In the meantime, here’s our own review of the first five attributes, with a précis of Jeff’s main point in bold. Check out the next five in a week’s time.

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Activate Enterprise apprenticeship manifesto

Apprenticeships are a hot topic in the lead-up to the general election.

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