In May 2008 we launched the Training Quality Standard - an assessment framework and certification process designed to recognise and celebrate the best organisations delivering training and development solutions to employers.
One year on there is a lot to celebrate. Registrations for the Training Quality Standard have increased four-fold to almost 300 and awareness has grown significantly. 108 organisations have achieved the Standard, with more than half of these achieving a Part B specialism, demonstrating expertise in a particular sector. On 16th June we are holding an event to mark the first year of the Standard where speakers, including Skills Minister Lord Young, will set out the real, tangible benefits that the Standard brings for employers and providers. Lord Young will also present plaques to those providers recently certificated against the Standard.
The Training Quality Standard was created by the LSC. It came in response to calls from employers for a new higher standard for the certification of training providers, including those previously recognised as Centres of Vocational Excellence. In 2006, the report by Lord Leitch also made reference to the need for a new standard.
The LSC acknowledged these calls and set out to create a single mark to illustrate quality and excellence in training provision easily identifiable to employers. A year of research, development and testing with employers and training providers followed. The Training Quality Standard now reflects employers' priorities and expectations in sourcing training and development solutions, and the practices of the organisations proven to be the best at delivering them.
Achieving the Training Quality Standard mark does not come easy. The College of North East London Certification supported this, stating that the Standard is genuinely tough to achieve. This is deliberate. The Standard is something which organisations should aspire to, trust it as representing high quality training and be proud of when they accomplish it.
The Standard allows organisations to submit their strategies and approaches for robust assessment. Certification can then be achieved for meeting the high standards set for capability and performance. It recognises those colleges and training providers that put employers’ needs at the heart of what they do. Part of a fundamental shift in the skills system, it gives employers the power to choose how and when training is delivered to them.
The importance of training is fundamental, especially during a recession. It increases productivity, commitment and ensures that businesses are well-equipped to take advantage of the upturn when it comes. And we know that training and skills count in keeping people in employment and in helping companies to come through the current economic climate. By using a provider with the Training Quality Standard, employers can be sure that they get value for money and that the training is right for them. That will have a bottom line impact on the business.
In 2008, West Suffolk College became one of the first training providers to be certificated. They have commented that the Standard is the most challenging certification that they have worked towards and that they have used it to ensure a consistent approach across all of their training provision for employers. Working towards the Standard enabled them to examine how their strategy was responding to and meeting their customers’ needs. I was also lucky enough to present the 100th Training Quality Standard award to Milton Keynes College.
The Standard has come a long way. At its launch, 36 organisations had achieved certification; there are now 108. Training providers acknowledge that working to the Training Quality Standard framework ensures that processes are aligned to meeting the needs of businesses in an efficient and responsive way. Achieving the Standard can have real, bottom-line, benefits for businesses.
I am personally very proud of what we have achieved during the first year of the Training Quality Standard. But at the same time, I am aware that we need to continue to raise awareness of the Standard and the benefits it brings to organisations. It is a genuine mark of achievement and we need to encourage more people to work towards achieving it. We want employers to recognise that using training providers with the Training Quality Standard is essential. None of us will be content until every college and provider of training that works with employers is operating to the Standard and thereby demonstrating their expertise at giving employers the type of service they need.
I hope that this occasion provides everyone with the opportunity and incentive to find out more about the advantages of achieving the Training Quality Standard. I look forward to a continued growth in the number of organisations aiming to meet the Standard.
Chris Banks is chairman of the Learning and Skills Council (LSC)