Consulting firms key in apprenticeship standards UK

22 December 2014

Eleven consulting firms have signed up to develop the new standard for management consultancy apprenticeships as part of the UK Government Trailblazers scheme to reform all apprenticeships in the UK. This reform will ensure that the developed skills of apprentices meet the needs of employers to enhance their competiveness. In addition to the consulting firms involved in the management consultancy Trailblazer scheme, several other consulting firms also signed up to develop standards for other apprenticeships.

Apprenticeships provide an important opportunity for young professionals to gain work experience while receiving on-the-job and off-the-job training during which a specific set of skills and qualifications is taught, and for employers to shape and groom future talent for their company. If an apprenticeship is well set up and the company is able to adjust its features to respond to new developments in the field, an apprenticeship can create outstanding new talent. This talent can form an attribute not only to the company, but also to the sector, and can hence improve a country’s competiveness.

Apprenticeship trailblazers scheme of UK government

Trailblazers scheme of the UK Government
The UK Government has announced the need to reform the apprenticeships in the UK to make them more rigorous and responsive to the needs of employers. In order to do this, new apprenticeships standards and assessment approaches need to be developed that will shape all new apprenticeships in order to make them world-class. These new standards are to be developed by employer-led Trailblazers; groups of large and small employers and professional entities from different sectors. More than 1,000 employers across 37 sectors, including Agriculture, Business, Engineering, Healthcare, HR & Recruitment, Logistics and Supply Chain, and Transport, are designing new apprenticeships to best meet the skills needs of their industries. The newly developed standards will be short, simple, accessible, and replace the complex frameworks currently in place.

Among the employers involved, several consulting firms are found, including management consultancy Accenture, talent, retirement and health solution expert Aon Hewitt, IT consultancy Atos, accountancy and business advisory firm Baker Tilly, accounting, tax and advisory firm BDO, information technology and business process services provider CGI, assurance, tax and advisory firm Grant Thornton, and HR expert Mercer.

Consulting firms key in apprenticeship standards UK

Management consultancy apprenticeship
One of the new apprenticeships to be developed is the management consultancy apprenticeship. To develop the standard for management consultancy apprentices, the UK Government enlisted 11 consulting firms. The management consultancy Trailblazer will be led by PwC and consists of Deloitte, KPMG, BAE Systems Applied Intelligence, EY, Stanninghouse Consulting, Capgemini, Roth Observatory International, JIP Rooke, Red Quadrant, and IBM. “We are proud to lead a team of employers, in a new Government trailblazer, to develop a Management Consultancy Apprenticeship Standard in England. The standard will help all management consulting employers measure the success of their apprenticeship programmes and the performance of their apprentices,” says Sara Caplan, PwC Education Partner. “As a major employer of school leavers we believe this trailblazer will give young people greater access to the workforce and provide the training and work experience they need to progress within the industry, whilst also developing the skills that support economic growth.”

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How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

11 April 2019

Amey Consulting has leveraged data insights to assist Network Rail with the improvement of its South-Eastern route. Using the Quartz tool, which monitors train movement, Network Rail will now be able to commit to data-enabled interventions to quickly improve underperforming train stations.

With rail services in the UK coming under strain from the demands of modern commuter life, while the infrastructure and service delivery of the nation’s railways has come in for sustained criticism in recent years, a period of regeneration is on the cards at last. Network Rail is the owner and infrastructure manager of most of the railway network in Great Britain, and has subsequently tapped the consulting industry on a regular basis to help find areas of improvement.

The group recently drafted in consultancy BearingPoint to conduct a thorough organisational evaluation and advise Network Rail (High Speed) on attaining a ‘fit for purpose’ organisational standard – for which the consultancy was nominated at the 2019 MCA Awards. Meanwhile, ArupArcadis and Aecom have been contracted to help Colas Rail and Babcock Rail implement a decade-long framework for Network Rail, aimed at supporting the delivery of the next generation of rail systems, with the contracts said to be worth as much as £5 billion

How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

As Network Rail further aims to improve its performance and customer service offering, another area it has sought help from the consulting sector for is its South-East route. The network of railways connects London with the southern parts of the country, as well as with Europe, making it the busiest in the country, with more than 500 million passenger journeys per year. This crucial expanse of rail was plagued with small minute delays, which were impacting millions of passengers every day, while reducing the efficiency and capacity of the overall network – something Amey Consulting was selected to help solve.

Amey Consulting soon determined that with the sub-threshold delays to services only lasting for 1 or 2 minutes, most were not the subject of detailed root cause analysis, and this made their corrections almost impossible – with dire consequences. Without addressing these delays, passenger satisfaction would fall, while the capacity and efficiency of the network would be reduced, stinging the income of Network Rail even before a host of delay-related fines would hit the company.

In order to help the client gain a better understanding of where, how, when and what these small delays occur, Amey Consulting looked to demonstrate the value of data-led consulting, with a significant reduction in delays within the first month of rolling out changes to key stations. The consultants embedded themselves in Network Rail’s team, helping them learn the key skills needed to support and apply data-driven solutions.

Agile transport

This involved the deployment of the Quartz tool. The system utilises to-the-second train movement data to present the performance of individual stations across the South-East route. It allows users to effortlessly understand station performance with a high level of detail, and use this information to identify losses caused by small-minute delays. The granular data allows for targeted actions to drive efficiency savings and performance improvements. More importantly, it allows users to understand the impact of small process changes on performance. 

Steve Dyke, an Executive Partner at Amey Consulting, said of the project, “We looked to identify the physical root cause on the infrastructure, building a case for change then managing that project implementation and tracking the benefit/value.  In doing so we are working to define a data performance improvement service to the operational and infrastructure owners.”

Just as important for the project as the technology, however, was teaching the Network Rail team how to leverage it after the consultants were gone. The Amey Consulting team worked to develop an agile working culture within Network Rail’s South-East division, helping staff to be confident in using data to improve the journeys of millions of people per year by attacking the problem from the ground up.

Dyke concluded, “This is less about the tools and about the approach to managing performance.  It meant using by-the-second analysis, data science, and then agile development to visualise and identify areas where improvements can be made.  We then worked with NR to change the way they approached the management of the infrastructure changes.  So rather than pass the information down the value chain, any of which could have been missed, we managed the change end-to-end.”

The project was so successful that Amey Consulting was also among those honoured at the recent MCA Awards. The firm scooped the Performance Improvement in the Public Sector prize for its work with Network Rail, at the 2019 ceremony in London.