Organisations in a diverse range of sectors and industries fall under the scope of the Apprenticeship Levy and with nearly 200 standards currently approved for delivery (plus many more in the development pipeline), picking the right one can be a challenge.

But we’ve found one option to be particularly popular with employers and in this guide, we’ll explore why the project management apprenticeship standard is proving a favourite for a variety of different businesses and explore the range of roles it’s suitable for.

A brief introduction

The Associate Project Management standards sits within funding band nine, with a maximum funding cap of £9,000 per apprentice (or £900 if you’re funding it via co-investment). It’s also a Level 4 standard, which means it’s equivalent to a certificate of higher education.

It typically takes 24 months to complete (although we aim to deliver it within 18) and covers a wide range of subjects, including:

  • Project governance
  • Project stakeholder management
  • Project communication
  • Project leadership
  • Consolidated planning
  • Budgeting and cost control
  • Business case and benefits management
  • Project Scope
  • Project Schedule
  • Resource management
  • Project risk and issue management 

Those who complete the standard will also be trained in effective collaboration and team work, leadership and a focus on results, as well as compliance and professionalism.


The recent round of apprenticeship reforms means that course content can be subject to much greater customisation - enabling employers to tailor the training to their specific needs. Since pretty much every business runs projects and could benefit from better implementation of the above topics, it’s easy to see why projectmanagementapprenticeit’s proved a favourite among employers.

The standard was also developed with input from the Association for Project Management (APM), using the body’s accredited PMQ qualification as a basis. This ensures it’s aligned with the industry standard for developing project managers and produces instantly applicable competencies that can be validated via end point assessment.

Those undertaking the training can apply to become student members of the APM and upon completion, can go on to attain full membership. As part of the standard, apprentices will also complete the International Project Management Association qualification to level D.

Similarly, most of the criteria around prior qualifications that previously prevented people with existing higher qualifications from enrolling on apprenticeships has been done away with - making it easier than ever for employers to enrol their existing staff members on a standard.

For organisations dipping their toe into apprenticeships for the first time, this route is frequently preferred to taking on new staff from scratch. Investing in long-standing staff that have tacitly demonstrated commitment to your organisation is considered less of a risk than bringing on a fresh staff member, despite the many incentives offered for those taking on young apprentices.

Diversity of application

Given that project management is only one of several leadership and management standards, this begs the question why it’s increasingly winning out over similar options. We feel that it’s simple a matter of the diverse contexts that project management can be applied in.

Arguably the next closest standard is Operational/Departmental Management, which takes two and a half years to complete and offers a level 5 qualification - equivalent to a foundation-level degree.

However, when compared to the project management standard this is a lot more narrow in its scope. For example, the overview of the Operational/Departmental management goes a lot further in defining who and what it’s for:

“An operations/departmental manager is someone who manages teams and/or projects, and achieving operational or departmental goals and objectives, as part of the delivery of the organisations strategy. They are accountable to a more senior manager or business owner.”

Whereas the description of the project management standard allows for a greater variety in how its learnings are applied:

“Projects can be defined and delivered within different contexts, across diverse industry sectors. They can be large or small. Every project needs to be managed to ensure its success, An associate project manager knows what needs to be achieved, how it will be achieved, how long it will take and how much it will cost.”

While course content is much more customisable regardless of the standard, the academic learning that supports project management allows for a much greater range of applications within different roles.projectmanager

From marketing managers and IT systems developers to office managers and frontline HR staff - the skills imparted by the standard can be applied in virtually any scenario. Project management is geared towards functions and processes, rather than the management of people.

As opposed to similar standards, there’s much less focus on leadership, developing staff and understanding employment laws and a much greater focus on enhancing the administration of projects in a plethora of contexts. 

As a Levy-payer ourselves, we’ve had first-hand experience of this. We’ve enrolled two staff on project management apprenticeships, one at director-level and the other in a relatively junior position. However, we fully expect each to be able to apply knowledge gained from the standard in their role and see near-immediate benefits in multifarious areas. 

And you? 

If you like the look of the project management standard, or are opting for another, similar one - we’d love to hear your story. Be sure to reach out to us via Twitter or LinkedIn. 

And if you’re looking for a provider to service your project management apprenticeships, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our Levy team today:

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