In our Demystifying Apprenticeships series, @Rubiteks founder and CEO, @kerrylinley, spoke to guest Paul Butler, who describes himself as a seasoned campaigner for quality apprenticeships.
Paul has a unique insight into Skills operations, policy and implementation having held senior positions in FE, private industry, with independent training providers and government funding bodies.
Together we discussed what makes a great apprenticeship training provider, and what any new provider who is thinking about applying to the register of apprenticeship training providers (RoATP) should consider. These Top 10 tips were the take-away from our conversation. We hope you find them useful.
1. RoATP Applications
When composing a RoATP application, a new provider must ask themselves the following question: What exactly is an apprenticeship? If you're composing a RoATP application, understanding what an apprenticeship is nowadays, and what it means, is absolutely critical, and this carries through into the post-application period. When it comes to policies and procedures, there's no off-the-shelf solution. Once you’ve written your application, make sure you deliver on it.
2. Considering the Financials
When opening yourself up to this new world of apprenticeship training provision, you must be sure that your financials stack up to the ESFA's financial health check and the scrutiny that comes with this. This is not something to take lightly. Make sure you've got proper accountants and you’re up to date with all your financial documentation.
3. Compliance, Compliance, Compliance
It’s vital to consider the ever-changing compliance at every stage. If your organisation is drawing from public funding and you haven't got the systems in place to evidence that you've completed that learning, you may face funding claw backs. There's nothing worse for your finances than being paid for something and then having that money clawed back a few months later.
4. Do Your Research
Research is important. Encountering surprises along the way can rock the entire process for providers, apprentices and employers alike. In the worst case, this could lead to loss of trust. As soon as you've got a loss of trust, you get disengaged learners, disengaged employers, and the whole thing falls apart and, ultimately, everybody loses out.
5. Stay Up to Date
The research doesn’t end after you submit your application. A great training provider is adaptable, so in order to provide the best experience possible to both learners and their employers, you’ll need to stay up to date with all the latest technology, compliance and so on.
6. Assemble the Best Possible Team
It goes without saying, but staffing is hugely important in the making of a great apprenticeship training provider. Make sure you've got a competent team that covers all aspects of every apprenticeship and can deliver these aspects confidently and to a high standard. If an apprentice is going to have the best possible learning experience, they’ll want to be taught by a true subject matter expert.
7. Work Closely with Employers
A great training provider works closely with employers. This includes making sure that you seek the employers’ input when planning out programmes, to create and provide an exceptional program that fits not just the relevant standards, but also the employer’s needs.
8. Review and Improve
Get as much feedback as you can from right across the board, making sure you're bringing it in from every possible corner. Not only this, but make sure you’re listening to it and doing something with it. Don't just collect this data for the sake of it. The main question you want to be asking is this: are you delivering an effective programme? If so, you’ll likely receive repeat business. However, you need to find out if this is the case and, if not, what you can do to fix it.
9. Points for Comparison
You’ve collected all of this data and feedback and that’s brilliant, but does it mean a lot out of context? Our top tip is to read Ofsted reports from the inspection of other training providers and compare your performance, identifying how you can improve to be more on their level. But don't just read the “outstanding” and the “good” ratings; read the poor ones as well, so you can avoid making the same mistakes. They’re like free case studies, really.
10. And So, It Continues…
How are you going to maintain the excellence that you’ve achieved? How are you going to improve on the areas that need it? Focus on continuous improvement. This means keeping up with compliance on an ongoing basis, working closely with all parties, taking on feedback and always planning for the future. A great apprenticeship training provider doesn’t just settle for the bare minimum, but is constantly learning and adapting in order to provide an enhanced and valuable experience to learners and employers alike.