A common complaint from manufacturing employers is the quality and consistency of apprenticeship training provided through different educational institutions and training providers across the UK. Through my work delivering apprenticeship training for employers across the UK, here are some questions I'd advise asking your potential training provider to ensure you're going to get the skills and support you expect:
4. Can I meet the tutors and take a tour of your training facility?
Nothing gives an employer a better sense of a provider’s training philosophy and the quality of their equipment than taking a tour of their facility and meeting the apprentice tutors. EEF holds regular open days for employers and potential apprentices as well as arranging for private tours for potential employers. Our tutors come from an engineering and manufacturing background to ensure they have a firm understanding of what skills and equipment apprentices will need to know in the workplace.
We’re proud of our facility, leadership team and tutors and enjoy showing employers what we offer.
5. What employers do you work with and can you provide references?
Another really key piece of information to find out if the provider has experience in working with a company like yours. If you have apprentices to train in multiple geographical areas their experience in this area and case studies of the work they’ve done are key. Stories like Ibstock Brick’s who went from 19 providers to one and the consistency and value they get are good examples.
6. Are the classroom and shop floor training facilities use by apprentices-only or are there other adult learners mixed in as well?
Some local colleges and training providers have a mix of learners in their classroom, including adult learners. At EEF, we’ve chosen to train apprentices separately from any other training going on at our centre. This is beneficial for a number of reasons ranging from apprentice safety, to helping apprentices form a peer network of like-minded individuals at organisations across the country, to help with challenges and problem-solving on the job.
The Skills Report found that: “Smaller businesses in particular do not have the bargaining power or economies of scale to demand the training provision they need from local providers. These challenges are exacerbated by the fact that many manufacturers are multi-sited. Some report excellent provision close to one site, but others will experience very poor provision in another region.”
7. How will you customise training for my particular needs?
Unfortunately, many employers find dealing with local colleges and training providers frustrating because they are given a set offering of available courses with very little opportunity for customising the training to individual needs and qualifications.
Not only does EEF provide customisation for its employers training through our own Technology Training Centre, but we work on behalf of our employers with local colleges across the country to establish customised learning for their apprentices that is consistent across the country. For small- and medium-sized employers, having a respected organisation like EEF (representing dozens of manufacturers) negotiating with local providers ensures our employers get the bespoke training they need and can negotiate the best deal possible.
EEF have been delivering apprenticeship programmes for over 30 years, from its base in the West Midlands. We offer apprenticeship training at our centre for those based in the West Midlands, those outside of the West Midlands through a well-established residential programme and work with local training providers or colleges in other areas to deliver the off-the-job training.
Over the last 2 years EEF have invested £11million in its apprenticeships offering with a new centre, the ‘Technology Hub’ opening September 2016. The new site doubles the capacity for new apprenticeship starts to 500 per annum and trains all types of engineering and manufacturing apprentices, including delivering Higher and Degree Apprenticeships.