In this post, discover the world of apprenticeship training providers with our top tips! Learn how to choose the right provider, what they do, and what to expect.
What is an apprenticeship training provider?
An apprenticeship training provider is an organisation that provides and oversees the delivery of apprenticeship training. Apprenticeships approved for delivery (and those withdrawn, or in development) are listed on the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education website at the link below:
https://www.instituteforapprenticeships.org/apprenticeship-standards/? Training Providers approved to deliver these apprenticeships must be registered with the Education Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) and can be found on the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers (RoATP) which can be downloaded at the link below:
https://download.apprenticeships.education.gov.uk/roatp Apprenticeship training providers come in many different shapes and sizes, and include colleges, universities, independent training providers, and even employer providers. All are subject to periodic inspection and audit from Ofsted and ESFA.
What do training providers do?
As I’ve already mentioned, training providers come in different shapes and sizes, and some are better than others – it’s by no means a level playing field. When you first speak to a training provider about the possibility of them delivering training to your employees, they should explain how they will do the following:
Conduct a ‘skills scan’ of each potential apprentice – this will determine what your employee may already know, and therefore what the training provider will deliver in order to develop each individual's knowledge, skills and behaviours. If your employee already has some prior knowledge, it may also reduce the price for training.
Identify that the apprenticeship you think your employee should be doing, is actually the most appropriate apprenticeship for your organisation's requirements, and the work your employee will be doing over the duration.
Develop a training plan that reflects both the needs of each apprentice and your organisation, taking into account what the apprentice will be working on and any seasonal activities or restrictions.
Regularly review and check/test the progress of each apprentice and either involve you in that process, or as a minimum, provide you with feedback and any actions as a result of the reviews.
Provide training to the apprentice, and importantly, where this will take place (it may be delivered online, at the apprentice’s workplace, or at a college, university, or other offsite training location).
Support the maths and English learning of an apprentice who doesn’t have the required GCSE (or equivalent) grades (A – C, or 9 – 4).
Prepare the apprentice for their End Point Assessment which is the impartial assessment of whether the learner has developed the knowledge, skills and behaviours required to achieve the qualification.
How to choose a training provider
When choosing an apprenticeship training provider, there are a few things you should think about. If you already have a good relationship and receive a good level of service and support from your existing training provider, then it’s definitely worth speaking to them first. What’s most important is that you select a training provider who has a proven track record of delivering what you and your apprentice needs. If you don’t know where to start, the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education website is a great place:
https://www.instituteforapprenticeships.org/apprenticeship-standards/? Here, you can search for an apprenticeship by keyword (such as ‘technical’ or ‘leader’) and then filter by things like apprenticeship level, or the route (e.g. Health and science, or Digital). The results will display the apprenticeships that feature your search terms and match the filters you applied. Once you’ve found the apprenticeship you think is most suitable, click on its link and then you’ll see a box that says ‘Find apprenticeship training providers that deliver this standard’. This will take you to the ‘Find apprenticeship training’ website and display the results of all providers delivering the apprenticeship with a link to their further information including contact details, and any employer and apprentice reviews. When searching for a suitable training provider, think about:
What your organisation does, and how you operate.
The level of apprenticeship you require – if it’s for an existing employee, you’ll need to know what qualifications they already hold and what experience they have.
Where you want the training delivery to take place (at your offices, online, or at an offsite location). If the training is delivered offsite, think about the impact of travel expenses to and from the place of training. Travel expenses can be a contentious issue! Our view is that if the learner is attending training that an employer requires them to attend, the employer should pay for travel expenses, just as you would if a non-apprentice attended a training course or meeting you required them to.
There are a number of different levels of apprenticeship, and each is equivalent to other qualifications you may have heard of:
Level 2 (Intermediate) - Five GCSE passes
Level 3 (Advanced) - Two A Level passes
Level 4 and Level 5 (Higher) - NVQ Level 4, HNC, HND or foundation degree and above
Level 6 and Level 7 (Degree) - Bachelor's or master's degree
It’s up to you, the employer, to choose your training provider. Apprenticeships can last for a number of years, so it’s a key decision that will impact significantly on the outcome. It’s worth investing time to choose the right training provider for you and your organisation. Do your research, and read the reviews posted by other employers and apprentices.
Find a training provider who is available to deliver
Not all apprenticeship training providers cover all areas of the country. It’s worth checking with the provider which area they cover, and how they will deliver training. Also, make sure the person doing the delivery (sometimes called a ‘tutor’ or an ‘assessor’ or ‘coach’) that they have sufficient capacity. Check how many apprentices they have currently, and that they have scope to take on additional learners. As a rule of thumb, one person can manage up to 35 learners – any more than this and it should be a red flag.
Don't assume the biggest training provider is the best training provider
It's worth reaching out to more than one training provider. Just as you might interview several candidates for a job vacancy, or several suppliers to provide you with products or services for your business. Get to know several apprentice training providers, and don't just go with the first you hear of or speak to. A local college, or independent training provider may well suit your needs, but you'll never know if there is another provider better suited to you unless you do your research. Whilst all providers should be delivering the same competencies, not all deliver in the same way. What's right for one employer may not be ideal for you, so shop around.
Find a training provider you connect with
Don't underestimate your instincts. When you first reach out to a training provider, think about how quickly and efficiently they do or don't respond to you. And when you speak to them, evaluate what they have to say, and how they say it. As we've already said, it can be a long relationship, so it's important you connect with your training provider, and trust them to do a good job at delivering and ensuring your apprentice has the best possible experience.
Ask the training provider how they are qualified to deliver the apprenticeship standard you are interested in
It sounds like a silly question, but ask each training provider you speak to exactly what they know about the apprenticeship you want them to deliver, and what qualifications they hold to teach it. Whilst you want a provider who understands the apprenticeships landscape, if they don’t know much about the subject they are teaching, or hold or maintain their qualifications, or prioritise safeguarding, then you could be in for a bumpy ride.
Kerry Linley, CEO and Founder of Rubitek offers this advice:
“Don’t be afraid to challenge the person you’re speaking to about their vocational background – find out what they actually know about the subject you want them to deliver, and if you find holes in their understanding then reconsider using them. There are training providers out there with representatives that are seasoned experts, who know what they’re talking about, and you’ll get a far better experience and outcome as a result. Whilst you should expect the person delivering the training and supporting your learners to have a solid background, qualifications and experience, the initial advice and guidance you receive when you first make your enquiry should also give you the confidence that the training provider has a good knowledge of the industry”.
Try to find a training provider who focuses on quality, not ‘bums on seats'. Unfortunately, some training providers focus on quantity over quality. We are pleased to say there are plenty of providers who don’t take this approach, but if you are being hurried to sign-up with a provider and your instincts are telling you that not enough thought or care is being put into the advice you are being given, stop, trust your instincts, and look elsewhere. The needs of each apprentice will be different so find out what the training provider will deliver and how they will deliver. A provider that intends to point an apprentice at a bunch of resources and expect them to self-learn may not have your needs, or those of the apprentice, at heart. A good training provider will have staff who take time to understand you and the needs of your business first. You will know when you are talking to an expert who is taking a genuine interest.
Beware of using free recruitment services
If you are looking to recruit an apprentice, many colleges and independent training providers offer service that includes advertising your apprenticeship vacancy and even pre-screening applicants for you. If you are going to use this service, make sure you have an input to the advertisement, and make sure the person marketing your vacancy understands your industry – that way you are more likely to attract the right candidates to the role. You can also advertise your apprenticeship vacancy for FREE via the Recruit an Apprentice website here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/apprenticeship-vacancies And your vacancy will be published on the Find an Apprenticeship website here:
What should I expect of my training provider?
Your training provider should clearly explain what level of service you can expect to receive, and outline the responsibilities of everyone involved (employer, training provider and apprentice) whilst your apprentice is engaged in training and assessment. Your apprentice should have a series of regular reviews throughout their apprenticeship (usually every 12-weeks as a minimum) and you may be invited to attend some or all of these. You can also ask to see a copy of the review report / outcome and any actions. Ask about the funding and financial arrangements, including whether you will be required to contribute towards the costs of the apprenticeship. As a rule, small employers (up to 49 staff) do not contribute where the apprentice is aged 16, 17 or 18 on their apprenticeship start date, but you will be expected to contribute towards an apprenticeship for a learner who is 19+ (if you are a non-levy payer, you may be required to contribute 5% of the funding band maximum, plus any additional costs not eligible as part of the apprenticeship funding). You may also be entitled to receive a £1,000 Government Incentive and this will be split into two £500 payments due on the 3rd month and 12th month anniversary. Your Training Provider should check your entitlement to this payment, and clarify when you can expect to receive the funds, if eligible. Check out this link for more info: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/incentive-payments-for-hiring-a-new-apprentice Off the Job Training is an essential component of any apprenticeship and should be logged to evidence that the learner has spent at least 20% of their working time (capped at a 30-hour working week) on their apprenticeship. Some Training Providers are better than others at explaining how you can track this, and what counts as ‘Off the Job Training’ or OTJ. Your provider may even give you access to a system that lets you, or your apprentice, track these hours in real-time. And finally, your training provider should generate and issue three key documents for your signature, before your apprentice starts their training. These are:
Contract of Service
Rubitek is your trusted learning management partner
If you’d like to find out more about our experience and knowledge, not to mention our all-in-one learning management platform, and how we help you simplify apprenticeship delivery, get in touch with us today.