Improvement Specialist Level 5 Apprenticeship Lean Six Sigma Black Belt

As Business Improvement Specialists, 100% Effective is ideally suited to the delivery of the Improvement Practitioner, having delivered Lean Six Sigma training and coaching since 1999. Our program uses Master Black Belts (MBB) with years of practical experience to train and coach each learner. By supporting the apprentice, our MBBs will ensure that projects are completed so that not only will the apprentice learn the required skills and behaviors but also provide a quick return on investment for the employer.

Our training provides all the skills needed to be certified as an international Lean Six Sigma Green Belt as well as a change manager resulting in a confident and effective apprentice who can solve problems as well as implement them. Every aspect of our program is practical and keeps in mind that both the learner and the employer have needs, and we ensure both are satisfied. This is why our in-house programs can be adapted to suit your culture, history, and objectives

Why should you choose 100% Effective?

  • We at 100% Effective are improvement specialists, supporting companies and learners since 1999.
  • Your apprentices will be trained and coached by the same highly experienced Master Black Belt coaches and trainers.
  • Your apprentices will obtain an internationally recognized Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification along with other certifications on top of your apprenticeship, including change management and health and safety.
  • Your apprentices will obtain an internationally recognized Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt within the first month of the apprenticeship.
  • For line managers, sponsors, and supervisors, there is training on how to best support your learner
  • Your apprentices will complete 2 major and several minor projects providing Return on Investment quickly providing Measurable business improvements
  • Each learner is given E-Learning backup with full LSS GB course and multiple other E-Learning titles for 2 years.
  • We offer a customized program for your apprentices that includes blended learning – a mix of virtual, face-to-face, and e-learning methods. To enhance their learning experience, we utilize a variety of exercises, simulations, teach-backs, games, and projects.
  • Templates, guides, mock exams, case studies, and videos are used to make learning efficient and easier for everyone.
  • You will also have access to our alumni so you can network with like-minded people
  • We provide a personalized development plan for your apprentices to foster their growth and advancement.

What is the apprenticeship standard?

Improvement Specialists are responsible for leading the deployment of improvement strategies within an organization. They provide broad and deep technical expertise in advanced and complex Lean and Six Sigma, Project and Change Management principles and tools to enable identification and delivery of improvement opportunities aligned to key business goals. Improvement strategies can refer to a specific strategy within a company or a more general concept.

Improvement Specialists typically report to Improvement Leaders who develop the improvement strategy and governance processes, and who provide technical guidance on advanced analysis. Improvement Specialists draw on their advanced knowledge and skills in applying Improvement principles and tools across a range of programs/projects/areas to build the capability of others. They work closely with other Improvement Specialists to support the delivery of improvement strategies. Improvement Leaders provide technical guidance on advanced analysis. Improvement Specialists manage (directly and/or matrix) Improvement Practitioners who lead smaller improvement projects aligned to the improvement strategy.

A typical optimal ratio of Improvement Specialists to Improvement Practitioners in an organization is 1:10. Improvement Specialists work on multiple simultaneous projects linked to key business objectives, identifying and engaging both subject matter experts and key stakeholders. They swiftly visualize processes, problems, and opportunities and use both graphical and statistical analysis to deliver improvements.

Their work generally requires them to interact with others, but typically involves a high degree of autonomy. Improvement Specialists’ work can encompass a wide range of programs/projects/areas, such as supply chain management, quality control, or customer service. They work collaboratively with other specialists to achieve the organization’s improvement goals. Their focus is to build the capability of others to deploy improvement strategies, and to manage and deliver successful improvement projects.

Typical activities of Improvement Specialists include:

  • Leading local deployment of improvement strategy and supporting delivery of business goals
  • Modelling critical process inputs to verify root causes of complex problems or developing bespoke measurement processes to collect high-quality data in support of change
  • Providing technical expertise in structured improvement methods and advanced tools such as Multiple Regression and Designed Experiments to analyze relationships between inputs and outputs
  • Leading advanced and/or cross-functional improvement projects such as process re-engineering and change programs aimed at reducing energy consumption/waste or defects on complex products
  • Coordinating practitioner-level improvement training, activities, and projects, including delivering Lean Six Sigma Green Belt training and coaching to an awarding body accreditation standard
  • Coaching, mentoring, and communicating with improvement practitioners, business leaders, and stakeholders
  • Working in various locations, such as classrooms, shop-floors, or supplier premises, wherever their improvement activities are focused

Roles are commonly found in all industry sectors and functions including:

  • Automotive
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Telecommunication
  • Retail
  • Finance
  • Food
  • Drink
  • Travel and Leisure
  • Local and County Councils
  • NHS
  • Voluntary/Charity
  • Utilities
  • Insurance
  • Hospitality

 Job titles associated with the Specialist occupation include, but are not limited to:

  • Business Improvement Expert
  • Continuous Improvement Consultant
  • Process Excellence Manager
  • Lean Six Sigma Black Belt
  • Business Improvement Consultant
  • Business Transformation Consultant
  • Environmental Manager
  • Engineer (Environmental, Mechanical, Geotechnical, Civil, Chemical, etc.)
  • Environmental Data Analyst
  • Environmental Health and Safety Manager

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What pre-requisite qualifications are needed to undertake this program?

To apply for this Level 5 apprenticeship, you will need at least the following:

  • 5 GCSEs (including English and maths) or equivalent, or significant work experience
  • Ability to download Minitab software for study use
  • Ability to study and learn with 20% of your time off the job (336 hours over 14 months)

If you have not already achieved it, a Level 2 qualification in English and Maths will be required prior to End Point Assessment.

We strongly recommend that you have a relevant role in your company, with at least 2 years of experience in an improvement role or an equivalent managerial or analyst position. You should also have the time and flexibility to lead improvement teams to deliver at least 2 improvement projects.

You will need to have the ability to provide coaching and training to other team members, as well as to project manage implementations of solutions. Additionally, you should have the technical capability to conduct statistical analysis. Lastly, you should be committed to 14 months of personal development within the company.

How is this program delivered?

At 100% Effective, we offer two ways to become an Improvement Specialist through our apprenticeship program.

  1. Our courses are available every two months in open cohorts, which are delivered virtually.
  2. Alternatively, we offer in-house programs using a blended learning approach.

With over 25 years of experience in blended learning, we have the expertise and resources to provide face-to-face, virtual, and eLearning delivery. Our virtual approach allows us to train and coach apprentices from anywhere in the country, reducing travel costs and minimizing lost productive time.

For your Improvement Practitioner apprenticeship, you will

  • Attend 10 days of training
  • Receive 7 individual coaching sessions
  • Attend 8 group discussions / cross presentations
  • Receive support with 12 gate review and sponsor sessions
  • Receive 8 hours of end point assessment support
  • Have access to multiple mock exams
  • Complete at least 10 additional eLearning courses
  • Complete 1 major and 5 minor projects
  • Write at least 1 article / case study

How will apprentices be assessed?

The End Point Assessment (EPA) process starts once the employer confirms that the apprentice is consistently working at or above the level specified in the occupational standard, the gateway requirements for EPA are met, and evidence can be provided to an EPAO. The gateway requirements include the following:

  • Minimum English and mathematics at level 2
  • A portfolio of evidence (see below)
  • Written confirmation from the employer that the apprentice is working at or above the level of the standard consistently

The portfolio of evidence must include at least one set of evidence for each of the topic areas assessed by the professional discussion, which should include various documents, such as reports from process improvement projects, graphs showing process analysis, charts showing impact readiness, images of House of Quality, and extracts from project plans. The portfolio must also include evidence relating to the preparation and delivery of a training session. The requirements for the training session and evidence are as follows:

  • The subject must be selected from the following list: Project Management, Change Management, Process Mapping and Analysis, Lean Principles and Tools, Measurement System Analysis, Data Collection Planning, Graphical Analysis, Process Capability, Root Cause Analysis, Designed Experiments, Statistical Process Control.
  • The apprentice must prepare the training materials and must not use published training materials prepared by someone else, which will be verified by a signed statement from the employer.
  • The training session must be delivered to a group of Level 4 delegates in their normal working environment, last for 35-40 minutes and be continuously recorded on video.
  • The training materials may include PowerPoint presentations, lesson plans, training notes, photographs of whiteboards, handouts, and flipcharts.
  • All training materials and records of delegate feedback must be included in the portfolio of evidence.
  • The evidence must be mapped holistically against the KSBs (as shown in Annex A).
  • The focus should be on the quality of evidence rather than quantity.

Note: The EPAO will provide guidance on what is expected to meet the portfolio requirements.

What can you expect on during your apprenticeship programme?

The goal of this apprenticeship is to equip individuals with the necessary skills to identify problems within a company, devise effective solutions, and implement them successfully. The apprenticeship lasts for 14 months and requires dedication to develop both technical improvement skills and softer implementation change manager skills.

To successfully complete this apprenticeship, you will need to undertake a major project that saves an average of £50,000, as well as several minor projects that contribute to improvements in staff and customer satisfaction, quality improvement, time reduction, cost reduction, and delivery improvement. To achieve this, you will attend training courses, coaching sessions, and individual and group project work and research, among other activities. You will work with sponsors, 100% Effective coaches, and other company personnel.

To ensure that you gain hands-on experience, you will spend at least 20% of your time, approximately 6 hours per week, working on business improvement projects, developing confidence, skills, and problem-solving abilities.

Coaching sessions and gate reviews with sponsors will be provided to ensure that major and minor projects are completed successfully. This will not only demonstrate your learning but also the application of your learning, which will be valuable to your current and future employers.

Throughout the apprenticeship, you will be exposed to real-world examples of tools, techniques, and approaches through case studies that will stretch your knowledge and challenge you to improve.

We will provide support to ensure that you pass your apprenticeship through discussions with your coaches, mock exams, portfolio discussion practice, and presentation advice prior to the end-point assessment.

Upon completion of the apprenticeship, you will obtain an internationally recognized Lean Six Sigma certification, along with several other certificates of achievement such as change management and health and safety, to name just two. We only ask for your commitment for 14 months to enhance your learning and development.

What advantages can your company gain by training apprentices through our program?

  1. Savings of at least £50,000 per project – Based on our 24 years of experience in delivering Lean Six Sigma. We achieve this by providing multiple support elements for each apprentice, including regular coaching from Master Black Belts with years of experience, formal gate reviews with sponsors and coaches at the end of each DMAIC phase, and readiness discussions prior to the gateway to ensure success.
  2. Each apprentice will also provide other Returns on Investment by completing minor projects to build an impressive portfolio prior to the gateway, as well as writing at least one article that can be used for internal communication and promotion.
  3. Our learning experience is designed around your company and your objectives. Our flexible blended approach means we can support you in any way to meet your industry or business needs. Each apprentice will enjoy a tailored learning experience to maximize their learning and development.
  4. We provide monthly reports on the progress of your apprentices and their major and minor projects, ensuring timely communication for any required internal reporting. We have reliable and professional trainers, coaches, and admin support, all led by a dedicated account manager.
  5. Your apprentices will become more confident and effective. They will be able to identify issues, solve problems, and implement solutions

Lean Six Sigma Black Belt Apprenticeship

Cost – £9000

Non Levy – £450

Duration – 14 Months

Flexibility – Open Cohorts start in June, August, December 2023 or in-house delivery available

  • Full Lean Six Sigma Black Belt certification

  • Support by dedicated Master Black Belt

  • 10 training days, coaching, certification support

  • Access to 100% Effective’s Alumni

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Lean Practitioner Training

Course Content

The Improvement Specialist Level 5 (Lean Six Sigma Black Belt) Apprenticeship will cover a broad range of topics and models across the entire DMAIC process – Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve and Control. Our expert trainers and coaches will provide you with the key knowledge, skills and behaviours to effectively identify problems, solve them and then implement them.  You will cover all the key aspects of Lean Six Sigma as well as change management and many other key skills required for any Improvement Specialist.  You will by the end of your apprenticeship have the following knowledge, skills and behaviours as outlined in the apprentice standard. 

Improvement Specialists have the Knowledge and understanding of:

  • Leading improvement teams: Personality types, team development stages, motivational techniques, situational leadership, learning styles, mentoring models
  • Project planning: Multi-element business case, financial plan, benefits realisation plan, risk management plan, project plan
  • Project reviews & coaching: Coaching models, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
  • Change planning: Change management methods, impact/readiness, influencing strategies
  • Commercial environment: Business and economic risks including changes in legislation, government regulation or trading conditions that can impact all aspects of improvement from Project Selection through to selection/implementation of improvements
  • Principles & methods for Improvement: How to apply Improvement Methods (e.g. Practical Problem Solving, Define-Measure-Analyse-Improve-Control, 8-Disciplines, Identify-Define-Optimise-Verify) across all functions, policy deployment principles, Lean culture
  • Voice of the customer: Interviewing and focus groups, Quality Function Deployment principles and how to build a House of Quality
  • Process mapping & analysis: Activity network diagrams, design structure matrix, process modelling, key function diagrams and analysis
  • Data acquisition planning: Stratification, rational sub-groups, power and sample size
  • Statistics & measures: Probability distributions and how to test for fit of probability distributions to data. Confidence intervals, central limit theorem. How to test data for stability and normality and strategies for dealing with non-stable or non-normal data
  • Lean concepts and tools: Principles of Lean Thinking and Lean tools including origins and cultural aspects critical to successful application within an organisation.
  • Measurement system analysis: Repeatability & Reproducibility analysis. Long term measurement error
  • Process capability: Data transformation, life data analysis and prediction
  • Root cause analysis: Matrix plots, multi-vari charts, hypothesis testing principles and methods, correlation and regression principles and methods
  • Experimentation: Principles of full and fractional designed experiments including replicates, repeats, randomisation, blocking and centre points, resolution and confounding. Planning and analysis using residuals, main effects & interaction plots, hierarchy of terms, Response Surface Method, Split plots, Analysis of variance (ANOVA). Approaches for model optimisation
  • Identification & prioritisation: Creativity tools e.g. theory of inventive problem solving (TRIZ), Pugh matrix
  • Failure mode avoidance: System state flow, boundary diagram, interface analysis tables, fault tree analysis, robustness checklist, tolerance design and analysis. Principles and links between Failure Modes and Effects analysis for concepts, designs, processes.
  • Sustainability & control: Control and reaction plans. Prevention controls

Improvement Specialists have the following Skills:

  • Leading improvement teams: Holding team members/stakeholders to account for delivering agreed actions within an improvement project and building/maintaining appropriate stakeholder relationships inside and outside the organisation to deliver improvement project objectives
  • Strategic Deployment of Continuous Improvement: Contribute to deployment of improvement strategy, participating as an active member of the improvement community
  • Communication: Prepare and present concise proposals and plans. Capture and share progress through effective formats and channels. Use and handle questions effectively. Build rapport with others.
  • Capability Development: Train, facilitate and critique the application of tools used by improvement practitioners including tool-selection, links between tools, how they are used within a structured method, analysis of results and presentation of recommendations
  • Project planning: Plan and manage finances, multi-stakeholder delivery and benefits realisation
  • Change planning: Design reinforcement, engagement and communication strategies
  • Principles and Methods for Improvement: Guide others on the selection of appropriate methods (eg. Practical Problem Solving, Define-Measure-Analyse-Improve-Control, 8-Disciplines, Identify-Define-Optimise-Verify) to deliver improvements. Conduct gateway assessments to ensure suitability of projects to progress
  • Project selection & scope: Guides others on the selection and scoping of improvement projects and the initial response to product/process performance issues. Identify, scope and prioritise improvement opportunities that map to high-level organisation objectives and key value-streams
  • Process mapping & analysis: Guide others on the selection of appropriate process mapping and analysis tools. Critique improved state
  • Lean tools: Identify and analyse value-streams using appropriate methods and tools to optimise flow to customer. Develop a plan for Lean deployment within the organisation including effective and relevant performance metrics.
  • Measurement: Guide others on the planning, analysis and interpretation of data collection & measurement studies including the design of tests to recreate failures & steps to diagnose/reduce short & long-term measurement variation
  • Statistics & measures: Confirm data and fit for a range distribution models. Establish predictions. Calculate confidence intervals
  • Data analysis-statistical methods: Model random behaviour and make inferences with levels of confidence. Calculate/recommend sample size. Test hypotheses for all data types. Assess input/output correlation. Generate, analyse and interpret simple and multiple predictive relationship models
  • Process capability & performance: Identify data stability/distribution issues and apply appropriate strategies to enable robust Capability Analysis. Analyse life data to establish rates and patterns
  • Root cause analysis: Make appropriate use of data to assess contribution of critical inputs/root cause(s) to product/process performance using appropriate graphical and statistical tools to draw and communicate conclusions
  • Experimentation & optimisation: Guide others on the planning, analysis and interpretation of experiments. Plan, conduct, analyse and optimise both full & fractional experiments
  • Data analysis – Statistical Process Control: Monitor and asses ongoing process variation and changes through chart-selection, control-limit setting, sample sizing/frequency and control-rules
  • Benchmarking: Guide others on benchmarking to support all stages of improvement projects including future-state design
  • Failure mode avoidance: Decompose complex systems in order to define main functions. Analyse system interactions. Cascade knowledge through fault tree analysis. Create and assess design rules, standards & verification methods. Complete robustness studies to select appropriate control strategies and detection methods
  • Sustainability & control: Guide others on control and sustainability planning including methods and tools to maintain benefits, extraction of learning, replication, sharing and consolidation of new knowledge into organisational learning

Improvement Specialists demonstrate the following Behaviours:

  • Drive for results: Co-ordinates and delivers sustained improvement across the business by engaging with, and inspiring stakeholders; adopting a can-do attitude
  • Team-working: Leads cross functional project teams proactively, regularly supports others and replicates learning
  • Professionalism: Exemplifies high standard of professional integrity, ethics and trust within the organisation, whilst maintaining flexibility to the needs of the business
  • Process Thinking: Drives process-thinking and customer-focused, data-driven decision making
  • Continuous development: Identifies & models opportunities for development of self & others
  • Safe working: Adopts a proactive approach to safety, encouraging others and suggesting compliance improvements

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