Apprenticeship levy quality assurance is at the core of what we do at Salad Skills, and as a fully independent third party, we give you impartial advice to allow you to get the best from your levy fund.
As we approach the end of the first apprenticeship levy year, Human Resources Director Dave Winkler (pictured below) takes time to reflect on their approach at Imtech Inviron.
It was an opportunity for us to look at training in a different way. It was no longer just about traditional apprenticeships for young people but an opportunity to upskill our existing employees to drive change and improve business performance. In the past, we have had some mixed results with our apprentices.
Preparing for it was a challenge as information was confusing, limited and changing. It seemed difficult to know what was available to us in terms of training, how we could spend our levy contributions, how we could get existing employees to benefit, or who we could trust to help guide us. We knew we needed expert apprenticeship levy guidance to help us move forward.
Why did you go to Salad Skills?
Sarah and Salad Skills had the experience, knowledge and capability to guide us through the levy and enable us to get the best out of it. Salad Skills were able to manage, guide and shape our whole apprenticeship offering. But the best part was that they were not a training provider, they were an unbiased third party. They were going to be able to advise on what was right for our team and not just promote a suite of courses they specialised in. This was music to our ears.
They shared our business, and personal, values and were going to be able to give us quality assurance and a new way of working. Having apprenticeship levy quality assurance, from a partner we trusted was a huge step forward.
How did you start?
Sarah spent time with us getting to know our business, facilities management and what we wanted to achieve. She wanted to get to grips with our business priorities, skills gaps, current training delivery and results measuring.
We then spent time working in partnership, together as one team, to build a strategy that would bolster our apprenticeship recruitment and existing employee training needs, as well as support our commercial objectives and employee engagement.
Our eyes were opened with this new ‘end to end quality’ approach that Salad Skills were bringing.
What happened first?
We had a need for new entry-level apprentices, so Salad developed a bespoke assessment centre day and managed the whole process. The team handled the advertising, shortlisting, invites, bookings etc.
We had written the initial job description in the way we normally would, but Sarah wanted us to review it and make some changes. It didn’t talk to the right audience and she was completely right. We had used jargon and acronyms, forgetting that an 18-year-old straight out of school would probably not understand half of it, let alone want to apply for the role.
It’s this type of insight that we’d not had before. We had not thought in this way before. It’s made the world of difference to the numbers of people we now have applying for our roles.
Sarah also led the assessment days, which allowed us to focus purely on assessing the applicants. We didn’t need to worry about or get distracted by anything else. It was a seamless process and we made offers which led to our first 7 apprentices using this new approach.
Have Salad Skills made a difference in how you use training providers?
Massively. We’d had some quality issues with apprenticeship providers in the past and we’d also had issues with apprentices not logging training problems and concerns with us. All of this impacted on how engaged our apprentices were. We invest a lot of money in our training provision, so we obviously want to get results and retain our new trainees.
Having Salad Skills on-board has changed two main aspects of the process. Firstly, we now only use Ofsted level 1 and 2 graded training providers. And, where possible we use providers Salad Skills have successfully worked with in the past.
Secondly, Salad Skills keep in regular contact with the providers and our apprentices. If either party have any concerns, Sarah and her team know about it. If the issue is with the provider, they manage it though. They feedback any other issues for us to manage.
Sarah holds regular service review meetings with the training providers and reports back to us monthly about the provision and how our apprentices are getting on.
What is next for you?
The next focus for us working with Salad Skills will be to look at how we get our existing team bought into the new apprenticeships and how they can benefit.
There is still a stigma around apprenticeships being entry-level training. We need to look at what level 5 courses/qualifications could get us some quick wins to help win people over.
What would you say to other businesses about apprenticeship levy quality assurance and Salad Skills?
I would not hesitate to give them Sarah and Salad Skills’ business card. The expertise, honesty and integrity has enabled us to make huge steps forward.
Salad Skills have completely changed the way we work for the better. We have quality assurance and reporting that we didn’t have before, and we’re getting unbiased, impartial advice.
I have total confidence in the process and management of our apprenticeships now and we’re ready to start looking at how we roll this out for our existing team. I have no doubts that it will be a success with Salad Skills’ help.
Who is Imtech Inviron?
As a technical facilities management service provider, we maintain the mechanical and electrical assets for our customers in the UK. We employ over 700 people; the majority made up of either resident or mobile service engineers. We’re a national business with a national operations centre in Birmingham, and then 8 branch offices across the UK and Ireland. We form part of the Imtech UK group of companies. Our levy forecast for 2018 is circa £96k.
If you’d like to talk to us about how we can partner with your business or organisation to provide apprenticeship levy quality assurance please get in touch. We’d be delighted to speak to you.