The Engineering Trust

Finding the right training provider

What to look for when finding a training provider. You might be looking to start an apprenticeship scheme, returning to one or reviewing your current arrangements. If so, which type of provider is right for you?

When a company is looking for a training provider to work with in order to run an apprenticeship scheme (and therefore make good use of the apprenticeship funding available to them), the chances are it will be a confusing and unknown world into which they are stepping.

What does a training provider do? What will it cost? How much work is running an apprenticeship scheme for the company and how much of that will the provider do? What sort of training will the apprentice need? Where do we find an apprentice and what qualities and knowledge should we be looking for in him or her? 

Not all providers are the same

Independent Training Providers account for 70% of all apprenticeship programme delivery in England. If you add colleges and universities into the mix, then your options as an employer are plentiful and diverse. Finding the right training provider to partner with is an important decision to ensure that your efforts and financial commitments don’t go to waste and your apprenticeship scheme is a success. 

There are many different ways that an apprenticeship can be delivered and different training providers will work to different levels of engagement with apprentices and employers. Below are some examples...

Providers whose priority is speed of obtaining the qualification. They aspire to be efficient and cause minimum disruption by requiring little input from the company and the apprentice. They will offer low levels of support and it will be down to your company to recruit, set up the training programme and review the progress of the learners. During the apprenticeship there will be little contact with the company or the apprentice so for the cost, it can work out surprisingly expensive for what you get! 

Providers that will have a rigid delivery model. They will give you guidance as to which standard is most appropriate for your company however there will be little flexibility in regard to how the apprenticeship is delivered within that standard. The provider will give you some help with recruitment and assistance setting up company training schemes and interacting during the apprenticeship, but this will be limited and again the company will be expected to lead on the overall apprenticeship. The cost of these providers is invariably equal to the funding available so may not carry a high cost however it will involve more effort from you.  

Providers who have a holistic, wraparound approach to the company, course and learner. The provider takes an active interest in your company and guides you through the entire process, working with you and your apprentice as partners. They will be closely involved from the start explaining options, giving guidance on funding and administration and understanding what skills and knowledge the company will require an apprentice to have on completion. Based on this, they will find, test and shortlist candidates for you to interview. They will assist you to develop your in-company training plans, selecting specific college elements that work with the needs of the apprenticeship and your company’s requirements and will closely monitor your apprentice’s progress for the duration of their programme.  The experience is likely to be much smoother as a result of the partnership and it is likely to save you time and stress in the long run.

Which type of provider is right for you?

So if you are starting an apprentice scheme, returning to one or looking to change your training provider, which type of provider is right for you?    

When assessing providers these three simple questions will give you an idea as to what engagement and support you will get: 

“Do you provide a thorough apprentice recruitment service that includes testing/assessment, telephone interviews, information advice and guidance, shortlisting and the arranging of interviews?” 

“Do you help us develop and implement a company-specific training plan, and then assess and monitor the apprentice’s progress through it delivering above and beyond the requirements of the apprenticeship standard?” 

“Do you ask us what WE want and then tailor the courses and qualifications to suit?” 

The answers you get should give you an indication as to what you might expect from working with them to deliver apprenticeships within your business.  

Which type of provider are we? 

We would answer ‘yes’ to all three questions above and would fall into the third description. We believe our level of engagement with the employer and apprentice is outstanding and this is a point of pride for us. In any marketplace there are options and we strongly feel the value that we add to the apprenticeships we deliver and the partnerships we build with our employers are the keys to our success. Ask any of the companies we work with and they will tell you it is time and money very well spent. 

Written by Dave – Training Officer