Hints and tips for employers on choosing the right delivery partner to work with.

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How to choose a delivery partner

All providers are quality-assured by a number of external bodies in the four nations (Ofsted in England, the Education and Training Inspectorate in Northern Ireland, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education in Scotland, and Estyn in Wales all perform similar functions). So looking at the results of their assessment is a good starting point.  

When selecting your training provider, it is important that they have trainers and assessors who understand your business and can teach your apprentice the relevant units in the QCF framework (occupational competence).

The frameworks are usually very broad and it is important that your chosen provider is in a position to deliver units that fit your business requirements rather than a generic qualification.

Here are some things to consider when choosing a delivery partner: 

As well as an understanding of your sector and what you do, you need to know how long your potential partner has been working in the apprenticeship field. With all employers with over £3m payroll now contributing to the levy, the pot is sizable and there are many new players vying for business - some with very little experience. You should also find out how many apprentices they employ themselves to get a feeling for their commitment to apprenticeship development.  

Most levy-paying organisations are complex and will need a range of apprenticeship training and development solutions to meet their skills needs. A good apprenticeship provider will have core specialisms, supported by a robust supply chain of partners in other expert areas – and will manage this seamlessly on your behalf. From vetting suppliers to managing on-going administration, good supply chain management is a vital service to get right when selecting an apprenticeship partner.  

An apprenticeship programme is a long term commitment so you need to choose your apprenticeship provider carefully. Spend time with potential suppliers to reassure yourself there’s good synergy. Your employees’ development depends on it.  

Most businesses are complex, operating from different locations, with different working patterns, and many different functions. Ask yourself: can your provider support the whole of your business and tailor its offer to your needs? Good apprenticeship providers should feel like an integral part of your company that flexes as you do – not a rigid, bolted-on service. Consider also if you will integrate your in-house training materials with their resources.  

A good learner management system is vital for managing your apprenticeship programme and making sure you draw down your levy funds effectively. It’s also critical when liaising with Ofsted and other regulatory bodies, as well as for quality assurance and audits.

Ask your provider about data management; how they’ll record, report and share data that matters most to you? The best apprenticeship providers offer user-friendly dashboards and tools that complement your existing learning management system infrastructure.