8 clear signs you’ve found a reliable apprenticeship provider

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Your apprenticeships partnership is just like any other business relationship; approved, endorsed, and trusted.

Get reassurance your apprenticeship provider is reliable from the very first conversation by looking for these 8 signs.

Key points:

  • A reliable training provider has a rigorous and thorough quality team checking every aspect of the apprenticeship programme
  • A trustworthy apprenticeships provider can substantiate its claims
  • They care about the success of your people and your business, so the conversation is always about the long-term career and growth goals, not achieving a certificate

#1 Your apprenticeship training provider has a quality team

A trustworthy apprenticeship training provider will have a dedicated quality team.

Quality specialists focus on apprentice performance and customer satisfaction.

Our head of quality at TSW, Sarah Elston, explains: “The main focus of the quality team is to obtain and use evaluations of apprenticeship provision to steer the strategic quality development of apprenticeship provision.”

“We use a range of tools to evaluate all aspects, including success rates for different programmes, the quality of teaching and the learner experience.

“As part of the quality improvement process, we actively seek feedback from learners and employers.”

Feedback, analysis and evaluation strategy

“The Learner voice report includes three surveys your apprentices take during the apprenticeship programme,” Sarah says.

“It ensures learners start as they mean to go on, enjoy learning and completing their programme with a positive impact on their work role and future prospects.”

“In addition, we use interviews with learners to provide an in-depth understanding of the learner journey.”

“Employers are invited to participate in the annual employer survey as well as participating in interviews, which evaluate the quality of programmes and their imput on the organisations with whom we work.”

Direction for people engaging with your business

“Having a quality team in place provides additional support to Route Managers, enabling effective curriculum development,” explains Sarah.

“For example, at TSW, we have an annual quality cycle which sets out the various evaluations to be undertaken throughout the year.”

“These all feed into the self-assessment process and annual self-assessment report with follows the Estyn Common Inspection Framework.

“Using this, external benchmarking and practice sharing through the B-wbl consortium, we ensure a high-quality learning experience with beneficial outcomes for learners, employers and wider communities in Wales.”

#2 The apprenticeship training provider has an employer engagement team

The employer engagement team is your initial point of contact. They get you set up and keep the apprenticeship programme running smoothly.

“TSW are on hand to support you as the apprenticeship progresses. We are responsible for collecting your feedback and making improvements to learning transfer”, says TSW’s Employer Engagement Advisor, Andrew Llewellyn.

“As well as being available when you need us, we’ll meet with you at the six-month mark for an Employer Engagement Visit.”

“In this meeting, we’ll chat to you and your apprentice, go through the quality surveys and get a sense of how they’re progressing.”

“We walk the candidate through the learner survey,” adds Andrew, “but it’s an opportunity to talk openly and honestly about the experience so far, and what they think about the quality of the apprenticeship programme.”

“Importantly for us, and our customers, the questions in the surveys are standardised, so we can see trends and compare data between leaners in different settings and businesses. It gives us leverage to action change that makes a noticeable difference for apprentices and managers.”

“The next step is to review with you, the employer. We check our work, and the programme is meeting your expectations. Can you engage with the apprentices? Is their work improving? Has their knowledge deepened, and is their competency apparent?”

#3 It has evidenced success claims

If your apprenticeship provider claims it has an exemplary track record, proven in statistics, reports, case studies and reviews, that’s a good sign.

The provider website and literature are the shop window for their service and the optimum place to position the information, so start your search there.

Statistics and substantiations

If the content boasts: “100% of apprentices passed their essential skills qualification,” check the substantiation is also satisfactory.

The substantiation should detail:

  • Data collection date
  • Method of data collection
  • The number of people surveyed in the dataset

You’ll feel reassured by a claim like this:

100% of apprentices passed their essential skills qualification*

*120 of TSWs engineering, IAG, childcare, and health and social care apprentices passed their essential skills qualification between January and December 2021

Statistics that lack substantiation can lead to more questions, and doubts.

For example, was the 100% pass rate achieved in just one subject? Or, in just one month of the year? And if the 100% was standalone without substantiation, you have no context for the achievement. Did just one learner achieve 100%?

Case studies

As well as data claims, an apprenticeship training provider will evidence their abilities with case studies.

Check YouTube for video testimonials, where apprentices and employers reveal their experiences. Ask for brochures and interviews that document real experiences – a reliable training provider will be able to provide them without blinking.


A reliable provider will also have reviews and testimonies on third party websites, with honest testimony. You would expect to see a range of realistic experiences, not all good, but not all bad either.

The best reviews outline the positives and negatives. It’s even better if the provider has replied with a solution.

Start looking at Coursecheck, Google Reviews, and Facebook reviews. Dive into opinion-based content to help solidify your opinion of the provider.

#4 They’ll tell you what improvements they’re working on

The rigorous evaluation process reveals areas to develop and improve. Your apprenticeship training provider will be able to give you the context about those areas, and what changes the team will make to reach those targets.

For example, your apprenticeship training provider might be working towards improving Welsh language provision, or championing wellbeing post-pandemic.

#5 Learning advisor support is solution orientated and impartial

Your enquiry, whether you ring in or send an email, will meet the sales team and its learning advisors initially.

At a reputable apprenticeship training provider, the learning advisor team will:

  • Listen to your training needs
  • Ask about the problems you are trying to solve with training
  • Offer advice, information, and guidance, according to your requirements
  • Connect you to an expert, like a subject department head or an employer engagement advisor

The learning advisors are solution orientated and impartial.

If the problem you’re trying to solve would be better remedied with a three-day health and safety course, for example, they will offer it to you as an alternative route. They want to find the right solution for your business and people.

#6 They’re focused on long-term outcomes and return on investment (ROI)

Training results are not just a pass mark on a certificate.

A reliable apprenticeship training provider will be able to analyse your business and identify the problems you are trying to solve with continuous professional development.

There will be motivators from a business perspective, such as:

  • Saving money
  • Creating new business and opportunities
  • Broadening and refining employee skillset
  • Improving the quality of your products and service
  • Increasing productivity

But there will also be long-term personal motivators, that will spur your workers onto success in your organisation:

  • They want to be happy, fulfilled and satisfied at work
  • They want a career path, with progression opportunities, like promotion, pay rises and accolades
  • They want improved capabilities and a deeper understanding

An apprenticeship provider worth their salt sees the long-term goals your business can achieve and will help you to set goals before the apprentice even starts work, so you get that bottom-line ROI.

#7 They support you

A reliable apprenticeship training provider just wants to make your life easy, and that means giving you support even when they’re not in the room:

  • They’ll offer to sift through apprenticeship CVs to help you find the star candidates that are a good fit for the role and your business
  • They’ll help you interview, or give you cues, so you find a person who is prepared for the apprenticeship and job
  • They have lots of free, plain-speaking apprenticeship guides (written by apprenticeship experts) to help you understand apprenticeships and everything involved
  • There’s a mailing list that sends you helpful information regularly

#8 Their values make you like them

Scratch the surface and their values don’t change.

In other words, if you find their customer service thorough, open, honest, and friendly, and you have a good feeling about the people, that’s a good indicator it has good values.

  • They listen carefully to what you need and the solutions they offer are always specific to your situation
  • They care about your success and accomplishments
  • They reply to you quickly, with thoughtful solutions
  • They do what they say they’re going to do and don’t over-promise
  • You understand what they say. Apprenticeships are complicated but you never feel lost in translation
  • Their standards are high, and you can see an attention to detail in everything they do
  • Every claim is substantiated and proven with data, case studies and reviews
Picture of Richard Hywood
Richard Hywood
Richard is TSW Training Apprenticeships’ Employer and Community Engagement Manager. His articles will help your business prepare for and manage apprentices.
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