Apprentices show their bottle
Teach Too has created a two-way street in which experts from industry work closely with education and training providers and vice versa. Training provider Midland Group Training Services describes its positive experiences working with the UK dairy industry
The UK dairy industry led an initiative to both centralise and standardise a national approach to developing advanced apprenticeship maintenance engineers. Working in partnership with Midland Group Training Services (MGTS), an educational charity specialising in engineer education, training and assessment provision, the industry established the Eden Engineering Project at Reaseheath College, Nantwich, in 2011. The dairy industry, initially comprising Arla Foods, Dairy Crest, Müller, Wiseman, First Milk and Milk Link, was realising its ambition to deliver a residential-based solution to introducing multi-skilled engineers to the UK dairy industry. MGTS, adopting the key principles associated with the Teach Too approach, ensured delivery would be structured from the employer out, not using current qualifications and apprenticeship frameworks as the reference. Employers were encouraged to map out the full range of required skills, knowledge and behaviour needs with particular emphasis on engaging with future competence needs and anticipating advanced technological and process developments.
Placing the employer at the forefront of curriculum and content development required a high level of flexibility and credible engagement where MGTS was required to respond to a diverse range of industrial instruction varied by the productive content of those involved. The dairy employers, as topic specialists, led on governance, facilities development and curriculum review often taking the lead in presenting ambition and content to students. The stretch element of the experience placed MGTS at the specialist crossroads between specialist engineering training and delivery and engaging with original equipment manufacturers [OEMs] who supply a range of specialist equipment, process machinery, process control and instrumentation to the dairy industry. This enabled MGTS to establish OEM partnerships to develop, evolve and highlight the benefits and value that OEMs can add to the credibility of the programme.
Oliver Kolontari, programme lead for MGTS, explains that within the programme there had been a push by MGTS, the dairy industry and Reaseheath College to develop soft skills, attitude and behaviour and to develop links with their dairy technician counterparts. This helped build a peer support network in the dairy workplace and a pool of skill and knowledge for problem solving which linked across companies. Kolontari says: “Within a few months of the students returning to the workplace they were deemed as adding value to their organisation. The employers have focused on the results and listened to the students to develop and modify the programme to achieve what is needed. “On completion of the second year the students completed projects back at site, which they presented to peers and companies; many showing significant savings and tangible benefits for their organisations often exceeding the cost of their training. “A project, such as this, is demanding on all concerned: the employer having to specify and monitor what is required and the effect it has; the training providers who have to deviate into industry specific areas and specialisms; and, particularly, the student with a fast and intense programme. That said, the results speak for themselves.” To sustain this programme going forward, the Eden programme has now engaged with other food and drink manufacturers/ process industries.
The white stuff: Midland Group Training Services’ (MGTS) Teach Too experience through the Eden engineering project…
- Developed capability of managing multi companies over multiple sites while standardising the MGTS Training Officer Service, to include on-site mentoring and support to the Eden engineering apprentices and on-site team;
- Developed collaboration and partnerships with the dairy industry, Reaseheath College and the National Skills Academy;
- Enabled original equipment manufacturer (OEM) partnerships to develop and evolve. It also highlighted the benefits and value the OEMs can add to the credibility of the programme, including the organisation of planned site visits to enable students’ first-hand experience of OEMs;
- Stretched and challenged MGTS both practically and mentally by the exposure to processing technologies and where MGTS needs to be working towards;
- Enabled MGTS to have credible conversations with other food and drink companies regarding processing, automation and instrumentation;
- Empowered staff to research and develop themselves and products to meet the needs of the programme and the dairy industry;
- Developed and enhanced staff flexibility by working at Reaseheath College;
- Developed new concepts such as monitoring behaviours, skills and knowledge at site;
- Introduced the ‘technical journal’ concept and developing the apprentice to own the knowledge of dairy equipment;
- Reviewed our IT to enable students to access the BTEC support material on the cloud;
- Exposed MGTS to new sector and new market opportunities; and
- Helped MGTS to evolve as the ‘technical interpreter’ for companies and their technical training requirements.
Teach Too explained
The Teach Too initiative for the FE and training sector is delivered by the Association of Employment and Learning Providers and UCL Institute of Education on behalf of the Education and Training Foundation. Teach Too encourages people from industry to spend some time teaching their work. This includes: industry professionals teaching in provider or workplace environments, and/or contributing to curriculum development, while continuing to work; promoting the practice of teachers and trainers updating their industry experience; helping to build the ‘two-way street’ – genuinely collaborative arrangements between employers and providers. For information and resources visit www.teachtoo.org