Matrix

 

The matrix Standard is a unique quality standard for organisations to assess and measure their advice and support services, which ultimately supports individuals in their choice of career, learning, work and life goals. 

“They spent a lot of time with us, understanding the needs of our business and clued into what we needed. They helped us to navigate the qualifications.” (Employer)

“I feel we have the same values – being open and honest, transparent and committed to working together. They are particularly strong on the quality of their learning and the learner journey.” (Partner)

“The help I have had has been realistic, accessible and supportive.” (Learner)

Below is a detailed accreditation review of NTG Training

INTRODUCTION

NTG Training is a growing, private training provider, based in Saltney, Chester and offering a range of qualifications and training including Apprenticeships, Traineeships and commercial delivery. With a strong focus upon effective use of technology through a working partnership with sister company IPEGS, NTG Training provides employer and learner solutions in a range of vocational areas, with a particular focus upon office-based, care and manufacturing qualifications from Level 3 to Level 5. Programmes are currently delivered through sub-contracting arrangements with several prime contractors. NTG Training primarily delivers programmes in the North West, with a small amount of provision in the Yorkshire and Humberside area.

Information, advice and guidance (IAG) is considered central to both the employer and learner relationship on an ongoing basis. For employers, this starts with contact with the Business Development team who are able to take time to understand the needs of the employer and to work with them to identify learning solutions. Employed learners are then identified through the workplace and offered opportunities for development, primarily through the Apprenticeship route. Traineeship learners are given initial IAG to understand their needs and requirements and the suitability of the programme to their career plans and aspirations. A model called “5 steps to success” is currently in development which will frame the learner journey and the support given, to maximise achievement.

STRENTGHS 

  • NTG Training’s partners and employers confirmed that they had a particularly strong and highly valued partnership with NTG Training for a number of reasons. These included responsive, positive and developmental working relationships, effective delivery that benefited partners and employers, ability to respond to feedback and make changes and improvements, and the use of technology to deliver effective and streamlined services. (1.8)
  • NTG Training’s sister company IPEGS has enabled NTG Training to develop an innovative, unique and paper-free sign-up and induction process for learners that effectively complements the use of e-portfolios during qualifications. The use of a photo stamp addresses Skills Funding Agency requirements for a unique signature. Learners, employers and partners confirmed that the system worked well for them and was effective in meeting their needs. Staff also found the system easy to use and a significant improvement on paper-based approaches they had previously used. (3.5)
  • There has been recognition of a need to invest in quality and this has had a beneficial impact upon the quality assurance approaches and processes of NTG Training. Robust and proactive quality assurance approaches have been implemented to review the quality of IAG activity, in particular through the IQA process. This has led to measurable improvements in key performance areas such as retention and achievement, increased the satisfaction of staff and provided stronger evidence to justify self-assessment grades, including those for IAG activities such as learner induction, reviews and exit reviews. This has led to the identification of new approaches to further strengthen IAG such as the current development of the “5 steps to success” model for Traineeship learners. There has also been effective use of technology in implementing quality assurance approaches to streamline systems, save time and resources, and support internal auditing procedures, for example, by further strengthening the initial IAG and sign-up process through the development of MIPEGS for use with mobile phones. (4.5)

    DETAILED FINDINGS

NTG Training is a medium-sized and expanding private training provider, delivering in a range of vocational areas and with a positive focus upon quality, meeting local needs and skills gaps. The organisation’s focus is upon understanding and responding to employer and learner needs, in order to build skills, sustainability and work towards a brighter future. Initial and robust IAG is considered central to this process in defining expectations, understanding needs and delivering appropriate solutions. There has recently been investment in a second member of staff within the Business Development team in order to build upon the successful approach used with employers, that has led to effective partnerships, recommendations and repeat business. This helps to ensure that NTG Training’s offer is clearly defined and understood by employers. Employers confirmed that they understood and were able to describe the strategic aims and objectives of NTG Training and the scope, purpose and function of the IAG service on an ongoing basis.

The organisational aim is to work with and for employers, to provide delivery solutions, that enable employees to achieve their learning, work and career goals and deliver bottom-line benefits to the employer.

The service objective is to engage effectively with employees and young people aged 16- 18, to support planned growth in Traineeship and Apprenticeship provision, in order to maximise achievement and positive progression. This is measured by:

  • Maintaining framework success rates of 82% for Apprenticeships, against a national rate of 71.7%
  • Improving timely success rates for Apprenticeships above the 67% achieved in 2015/16
  • Increasing the positive progression of Traineeships above 53% and maintaining employability at 99%
  • Managers and staff confirmed that the delivery of IAG contributed to the achievement of the above measures.

Staff described an inclusive culture where they were encouraged to share their ideas, were kept informed and updated by the senior leadership team and had a genuine sense of involvement and inclusion in the development and direction of the business.

Learners described how they were informed about key policies and procedures as part of both sign-up and induction and that verbal information was supplemented with written information in the learner handbook. Most learners confirmed receiving information about data protection, equality and diversity, including how they could expect to be treated, safeguarding, Prevent, health and safety and the complaints procedure. Learners described how policies were being implemented in practice, for example, in the way they were treated with respect, the management of their personal information and through checks of understanding that were undertaken during learner reviews. Staff confirmed that they had access to regular training in core policies and procedures, primarily through e-learning modules provided by an external company, although there was also some evidence of internal training and attendance at relevant events and prime contractor training. A number of written policies provided the formal underpinning information about company procedure and these were being regularly reviewed and updated.

Employers described how the initial information about the IAG they received, included the organisational and training needs analysis and that the offer of ongoing support was a key factor in their decisions to make use of NTG Training. This was primarily promoted through discussion, supplemented by some information on the website. The vast majority of learners found out through their employer, although word-of-mouth could play a role in raising awareness within companies. Information about IAG was provided as part of the initial interview, sign-up and induction processes.

NTG Training has developed strong and developmental partnerships, particularly with prime contractors and has continued to strengthen and grow its partnership working to become one of the most responsive, successful and proactive partners within the supply chains operated in. Partners described how quality assurance processes were proactive and enabled issues to be quickly identified and addressed. A range of staff attended networking and training opportunities, as appropriate and there was an ongoing dialogue about progress. Partners also liked the electronic sign-up process and the technological innovations and suggestions brought by NTG Training to joint working arrangements. Partners confirmed that NTG was responsive to feedback and sought to implement any changes identified on an ongoing basis, for example, IQA processes have been completely reviewed and re-developed. Employers described a similar experience and that contact was maintained even when they did not have any active learners, in a positive way that did not put them under any pressure to recruit more learners. Employers also valued the ongoing contact they had with the Business Development team as a separate contact through which any issues or concerns could be raised and addressed.

RESOURCES

NTG Training invests in resources for both staff and Associates to enable them to deliver an effective service. This includes provision of laptops, iPad, mobile phones and any additional equipment requested such as Digi-recorders and cameras. Staff confirmed that the resources they had were sufficient to carry out the role and were new and in good repair. Access to IT was particularly important, due to the electronic sign-up, induction and use of e-portfolio. Staff valued having a paperless system (although paper-based resources could be provided if needed) and the freedom and flexibility that this brought. There is continued investment in resources, for example, the company is currently moving away from OneFile to Ecordia to deliver its e-portfolio and sister company IPEGS is developing MIPEGS which supports functionality of the sign-up process on mobile phones rather than just iPad. Staff are also supported to develop new resources where needed, for example, learner support materials and workbooks. There has been a recent growth in the staff team and this has led to some internal restructuring to enable new staff to perform effectively with appropriate support and to invest in staff to diversify in their roles, for example, training Assessors as IQAs.

A range of information is provided to employers and learners about NTG Training’s offer, to support learning, to update on any changes and to maximise progression. This included information about other providers where appropriate. Learners and employers confirmed that the information they received had been accurate, current and sufficient to meet their identified needs. There were several examples of where staff had gone away to research information and to provide answers to specific queries that were resolved to the enquirer’s satisfaction, such as possible progression routes, career development opportunities and competencies or training needed when moving into a management role. Staff are also able to share information and resources through shared portals, the e-portfolio, standardisation and the IQA process. Information can be provided in other languages or formats upon request, although this is not often needed and tends to be organised in partnership with the employer, for example, employers with staff who speak other languages often have interpreting arrangements already in place.

“My Assessor is enthusiastic, encouraging and supportive which builds my confidence.” (Learner)

Staff were very positive about the training and development opportunities open to them at NTG Training and confirmed that this was better than other providers they had worked for. This led to staff and Associates feeling recognised and valued and increased company loyalty. Staff were also supported to progress where appropriate, for example, into an IQA role or another vocational area. Staff were also positive about future opportunities for progression due to a sustained period of company growth. Performance review includes an opportunity to consider and discuss any abilities or skills staff have that are not currently being used, as well as future development and aspirations.

“I have been really impressed with my initial experience of the company. I like the smaller size and the use of resources and technology.” (Staff)

SERVICE DELIVERY

IAG is defined as a 3-stage process by NTG: getting in, getting on and moving on. Employers and learners described how they were made aware of the IAG service and the model used at initial discussions and how this model was followed through during the learner and employer journey, for example, that discussion about positive progressions and destinations was a thread that ran throughout the journey. This was described as an effective motivator by many learners, a number of whom had raised their aspirations as a result of considering their next step. Information about programme content, support and the structure of delivery was provided both verbally and in writing. For employers, this was through the organisational and training needs analysis (OTNA), for learners, this was through the learner handbook. Learners and employers confirmed, that as a result, they had well-informed awareness and expectations of IAG and how the service would contribute to the achievement of their individual and organisational goals.

“It feels like we are on the same page.” (Employer)

The business development model is effective in engaging with employers to secure Apprenticeships and Traineeship placements. Employers described how they particularly valued the time taken to understand their business needs, prior to offering a delivery solution and the lack of sales pressure in the approach. The positive relationship established with employers then facilitates effective engagement with employees, who undergo a similar process in establishing their goals, aspirations and any barriers where additional support might be needed.

NTG’s 3-stage model of IAG is effective in ensuring learners are working towards their goals, and assessing their progress in relation to their goals, on an ongoing basis. Regular workplace visits, remote support and regular reviews maintained an open dialogue that learners described as supportive, developmental and maximising their potential to achieve their learning goals within the agreed timescales.

“The help and support I am getting is helping me to progress as a person and in the workplace.” (Learner)

“I have had a promotion as a result of the course.” (Learner)

CONTINUOUS QUALITY & IMPROVEMENT

NTG Training has a positive and active commitment to continuous quality improvement and has invested significantly in this area in recent years. There is a recognition that quality processes provide opportunities to identify, develop and build upon good practice to maximise success, positive outcomes and added-value benefits. This has led to identification of improvement areas such as the need to develop a learner voice strategy, better monitoring of destinations and improvements to resourcing and information. There are plans to review and refine the “getting in” aspect of the IAG service to ensure learners are making informed choices and understanding the requirements of the programmes they are taking, as well as the “moving on” aspect in understanding intended progression routes and destinations.

“Our absence levels are at record lows and we are keeping staff longer because they can now see a career path with us, as a result of the training they have had.” (Employer)

“95% of staff enjoy it and appreciate what we are trying to do. Staff are looking at things differently as a result of the training – they are thinking things through.” (Employer)

Partners and employers described an ongoing developmental dialogue that enabled any issues, concerns or queries to be raised, discussed and addressed, as appropriate. This meant that partners and employers thought NTG Training was highly responsive to feedback. Examples of changes included improvements to documentation, changes to delivery schedules, introduction of new qualifications and changes to delivery staff.

“My experience is that they are very responsive to anything I suggest. I find them pretty impressive.” (Partner)

NTG Training prides itself on being an innovative and developmental user of technology to streamline, enhance and maximise the learner experience and support staff in their roles. The development and usage of IPEGS has significantly enhanced the sign up experience for learners and created a paper-free experience that complements the subsequent usage of an e-portfolio. This is currently in the process of being changed from OneFile to Ecordia. At present, it is not known what impact this will have on service delivery and overall learner and staff experience, although it is anticipated that this will be positive. An immersion week has been planned for all staff to provide an opportunity to spend dedicated time getting to know and use the new system, with support. There is effective implementation of technological approaches due to training of staff and provision of current technological resources to facilitate delivery in outreach locations.

CONCLUSION

NTG Training continues to meet the requirements of the matrix Standard. This is in part due to the development of robust and proactive quality assurance processes that have had a measureable and positive impact upon success rates and the quality of delivery. Partnerships with employers and funding partners are also strong and developmental, effective in meeting funding and audit requirements and in providing positive learning solutions for employers. Use of technology and the innovative implementation of IPEGS at sign-up has made NTG Training stand out for its technological approaches and streamlined delivery model that is a genuinely paper-free experience for most learners.

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