Apprenticeships: five key questions to ask training providers

16 December, 2020Karen Taylor

There are over 2,000 organisations on the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers (RoATP). So, if you’re an employer seeking learning and development for your staff, how do you find the right training provider? Karen Taylor shares her checklist.

1. Is your training provider making life easier?

Your training provider should take all the complexity out of running an apprenticeship so you can focus on the job your apprentice is doing.

The training provider should explain the processes involved in running an apprenticeship, such as:

  • understanding the funding rules
  • navigating the regulations
  • talking the procedure through with your management
  • supporting your staff
  • guiding you through the off-the-job requirements.

Ultimately, the training provider is there to help you as an apprentice employer.

2. Is your training provider listening to you?

First and foremost, a training provider should – particularly in the early stages of any programme – sit down with you to understand your needs.

Some providers will try to steer you into accepting the programme they think you want or the programme they’ve always delivered.

But apprenticeships should be about the knowledge and skills you want your apprentices to have in your organisation.

3. Is your relationship with the training provider a partnership? 

Your provider should listen to you and co-create the programme you want. It should be a collaborative process.

You should end up with a programme that offers your apprentices the right training for your business and fits around how your organisation operates.

It is up to your training provider to keep your managers informed and ensure your organisation gets the return on investment (ROI) that you expect.

So how are they going to communicate with you? And how often? Who is your primary point of contact at the provider?

4. How are they going to support the apprentice?

I know from my conversations with employers – and particularly the organisations we work with directly – that supporting apprentices is their number one priority.

Outstanding apprentice support sets training providers aside. To ensure your training provider is supporting your apprentices the way they should be, ask them:

  • what structures and systems they have in place to support apprentices – including those who are struggling
  • how often they undertake progress reviews
  • what learning materials and resources the apprentice will be able to access, and
  • how does the provider expect you to support the apprentice with their learning?

5. What information is the training provider supplying to management?

You'll need regular updates on the progress of your apprentices while the programme is running.

Ask your potential training provider how often they will report back to management and in what format. For example, do they offer:

  • three-way meetings where the training provider discusses progress with apprentices and line managers
  • regular monitoring and reporting on apprentices’ progress in their studies and attendance, even when online, and
  • frequent operational and strategic meetings with you

Higher-level apprenticeship programmes run for a number of years, so it’s important to make sure you get a provider who supports and listens to you and your apprentices.

Only then can you be sure that you’re getting the most out of your apprenticeship levy and securing the best training for your business.

Karen Taylor
Karen leads the development, implementation and delivery of our apprenticeship strategy, including at higher and degree-level. Karen had a previous career in banking including financial institution relationship management before joining LIBF to specialise on our higher education, online and postgraduate programmes.

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