Skills for Security is the UK’s largest fire and security apprenticeship training provider, playing a key role in apprenticeship training across the UK by using a range of mixed delivery methods.
As Head of Quality at Skills for Security, Jon has a keen eye for detail and aims to elevate the progression of all staff and students who take part in delivering or accessing their training opportunities. Jon talks to ETF about his experience with Corporate Partner membership and the positive impact that investing in his staff has had.
As one of the key stakeholders serving the Fire and Security sector, we want to show our partners how we’re continuing to develop our delivery team to effectively educate our learners. And for us, that is by giving our team the necessary tools like SET membership to drive forward their learning.
This is a key investment for us, we are a small training provider offering a niche service so having this Corporate Partnership with ETF/SET demonstrates the passion and commitment we have for the delivery team and our learners, all while continuing to grow as a business.
Our Corporate Partner membership has resulted in 19 staff members actively engaging with SET membership. They’re going onto the platform by themselves and not waiting for prompts from myself, they’re asking questions and generating conversation which has really shown just how fantastic both SET membership and the ETF website are as tools for learning.
Their favourite SET member benefit has got to be inTuition magazine. Every center I go into there are copies on the educator’s desks. They read it and talk to me and each other about it. It gives them an insight into what is happening in the sector at an academic level that opens discussions. And that’s what we want, to continue the conversation.
We challenge all of our staff to not just deliver the technical aspect but to prepare our learners for life in modern Britain as well. Not only does this run through everything we do but it was recently reflected in our win of ‘Engineering and Manufacturing Apprenticeship Provider of the Year’ at the AAC Apprenticeship Awards 2023.
It’s important to note that staff engagement didn’t just happen by itself. As Head of Quality, my job is to drive through improvement in what we do and by having a fantastic working relationship with Tom – ETF Regional Relationship Manager – it has meant we were able to really hit the ground running when we started to work together. Tom led the conversation to find out exactly where we were, where we should be and how we were going to get there - and then we made a plan.
He was detailed in checking I knew how all elements of membership worked and made everything clear and concise, so we knew what we needed to do next. This was then driven back down to the staff with a Professional Standards call. I could see lightbulbs appearing during this call and I had positive feedback from staff who realised that this opportunity was much more than just a ‘freebie’ and they now see the real value in what they have access to.
Tom and I are in contact on a regular basis and alongside monthly usage reports and regular review points throughout the year, we discuss how staff can make better use of their membership and where they could engage more. It also means staff have been able to reflect on their own progress and this is where they are really starting to see the benefit.
Those who come to learn with us are here because they want to be tomorrow’s engineers, they want to learn a skilled trade, refine their skills and technical abilities. This is why we do what we do and why we continue to work with our staff to push their abilities.
And we’re now seeing this push reflected positively in our staff. Those who come and work with us come straight from the tools, so while they’ve got the technical competency, they may not have the required level of teaching experience. We develop them as teachers in the first instance and now, thanks to their exposure to SET/ETF combined with our ongoing development journey, I’ve got staff wanting to do their QTLS. So, all I can say is that it’s working.
The use of the Professional Standards and self-assessment tool really gave us a chance to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the business and delivery team right down to an individual level. It means we can improve the support available to our staff at a business level, identify changes that we need to make and then support staff with developmental feedback and tailored individual learning plans which ultimately, impacts the learners and improves the service we offer.
We’re on a journey now and the plan we’ve got in place with our Regional Relationship Manager to drive CPD forward is exciting so all I can say is just do it. As a small business, this was a big investment for us and while we felt apprehensive at first, once we were talking to our Regional Relationship Manager Tom, it built momentum and is now an absolute no-brainer. The benefits simply cascade down to the business. It’s a win for us as an organisation because we have the support of ETF and SET behind us, a win for the delivery team because we’re honing and developing their skills and a win for learners because they then benefit from highly skilled staff who can create an even better learning experience and outcomes with them.