Perspectives

Sourcing Apprenticeship Training Providers – Maximising the return on your levy investment by Louise Brown

Meet Louise Brown, our Apprenticeship Manager

This week is National Apprenticeship Week and we are nearly two years into the levy, I’ve been in the role of Apprenticeship Manager for just over a year after previously working in Bidfood’s Non-Inventory Procurement team for 10 years.

The introduction of the apprenticeship levy in May 2017 has shaken up the market for the provision of apprenticeship training. We have seen lots of new entrants into the market, historic apprenticeship providers partnering with commercial training providers, universities looking to change and evolve to meet the new demands for higher level apprenticeships and some apprenticeship training providers going into administration. With such a new and diverse market the need to go through an effective sourcing process for the provision of apprenticeship training is paramount.

My top tips for sourcing an apprenticeship training provider are:

  • Current situation – Spend time brainstorming your apprenticeship ‘needs’ and ‘wants’ with stakeholders in the business. ‘Needs’ should be your essentials and ’wants’ should be your desirables.
  • Create strategy – Think about how you want to spend your levy; which apprenticeships do you want to focus on first; where are the gaps in development or recruitment that could be supported with an apprenticeship; how many training providers do you want to manage; how will you mitigate the risk of supply.
  • Strategy implementation – Create a request for information (RFI) and send to a long list of potential training providers, use this as a gateway to select only training providers who can meet you essential ‘needs’. Issue a request for proposal (RFP) to the training providers who best meet you essential needs, use your desirable ‘wants’ as your selection criteria for this stage. Negotiate then with the two training providers who offer preferential ‘wants’.
  • Contract award – Create a written agreement; ensure that your agreement clearly states the services that will be provided; include service level agreement (SLA) and key performance indicators (KPI’s); protect any intellectual property; make sure data protection is appropriately covered.

Once the contract has been awarded the key is ensuring you get the best out of your training providers over the duration of the agreement, this will yield the best results for your apprentices.

My top tips for managing apprenticeship training providers are:

  • Ensure you receive regular management information reporting on the agreed KPI’s.
  • Have regular calls and face to face meetings with your training providers to review apprentice progress and check that the training providers are providing the services you’ve agreed.
  • Be flexible, employers and training providers are still learning, keep communication open and be prepared to tweak SLA’s/KPI’s throughout the duration of the agreement.

I believe that going through an effective sourcing process and closely monitoring your apprenticeship training providers will maximise your return on your levy investment and your return on the investment you are making in your apprentices.

For information on how apprenticeships could benefit you please visit www.apprenticeships.gov.uk

Date posted: 07/03/2019
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