Urgent plea to help save Chesterfield apprentice training firm facing closure

A Brimington-based training provider has issued a heartfelt plea to its apprentice employers in Chesterfield to help save it '“ in a campaign the Derbyshire Times is backing.

Wednesday, 24th January 2018, 3:46 pm
Updated Wednesday, 24th January 2018, 4:20 pm

A Brimington-based training provider has issued a heartfelt plea to its apprentice employers in Chesterfield to help save it – in a campaign the Derbyshire Times is backing.

NLT Training Services, Devonshire House, Station Road, which has helped train engineering apprentices since 1974, has had its funding withdrawn by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) after being rated ‘inadequate’ in a recent Ofsted inspection - forcing its closure over the coming months.

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But NLT bosses are confident they can turn it around and re-secure funding if they receive the backing of local employers.

Newly-appointed chief executive, Sarah Temperton, who was praised in the Ofsted report, said: “We are actively campaigning amongst employers to whom we provide apprentice training, to support us.

“Employers are very much in the driving seat now where apprenticeship training is concerned, so the future of engineering training proving in Chesterfield is in their hands.

“If enough employers tell the ESFA that they back us, we can push forward and secure jobs and engineering training in Chesterfield.”

Chris Cox.

The Ofsted inspection, which took place in October last year, rated NLT ‘inadequate’ in a number of areas but it was not all bad news.

The report states: “Leaders and managers have very effectively exploited their links with employers to plan a range of apprenticeship programmes that meet the needs of local and regional industries.”

It adds: “Where apprentices complete their programme they secure sustained employment and often progress to the next level of apprenticeship, particularly in engineering.”

The grading is said to have ‘shocked’ and ‘disappointed’ NLT’s management team especially after it was rated ‘good’ in 2014.

Jacob Saxton.

And the team told the Derbyshire Times they are ‘not running away from their problems’ and are determined to make a success of it.

Ms Temperton added: “Myself and all the staff are very saddened by the outcome of the Ofsted report however we are absolutely committed to ensuring the most positive outcome possible for everyone involved.”

NLT has provided training to young people throughout Derbyshire and Lincolnshire since 1974. It employs 30 people at its Chesterfield and Scunthorpe sites. It has 238 learners, of which 216 are apprentices, on roll.

WHAT DID FORMER NLT APPRENTICES SAY?

Luke Retallic.

Chris Cox, former NLT trainee and current NLT board member, has fond memories of the training he received.

He said: “Going straight from school into a factory is a big step, however NLT made that transition so much easier. I studied there full time initially where as much as possible the environment mimicked a factory – we used the same machines, we clocked in and we had a set lunchtime for example which made the eventual move to full time work so much easier, not just for me but also my employer. This is how NLT continues to operate and it’s of real benefit to learners and companies.”

A special taster day at NLT in Chesterfield convinced Jacob Saxton, 16, that an apprenticeship in engineering was the right move for him.

Following a hands-on day at NLT’s Chesterfield site where he got to speak to trainers and try out equipment in the workshop there, Jacob took the plunge and, with help from NLT’s business development manager, Keith Dixon, secured a Level 3 mechanical fitter apprenticeship with Worksop-based Steetley Dolomite.

Keith said: “We were all really impressed with Jacob and his attitude towards learning at the taster day, so when Steetley Dolomite approached NLT and asked us to help them find an apprentice, I immediately thought of Jacob. He went for an interview and the company was equally impressed and signed him up straight away.”

Jacob said: “I really enjoy practical work. The hands-on approach of apprenticeships really appealed to me. I’ve wanted to go into mechanical engineering for a few years; since I got my first car really. I like to see how things work and come together to create a final product.”

Luke Retallic is a mechanical engineering apprentice with Spire Hydraulics.

He said: “I really wanted to earn whilst I learned. I wasn’t really enjoying my A-levels and I wanted do something that would further my skills and add something to my CV. I wanted to learn a skill and get paid while doing so.

“I found the apprenticeship at an open day held by Chesterfield Job Centre. I saw NLT there; they looked professional and like they knew what they were doing.

“An apprenticeship really differs from school because you have a lot more independence and responsibility. I know that I am affecting a business if I get something wrong or fail to do something. You’re also gaining really valuable workplace skills in the process that look amazing on your CV.

“My current job allows me to do a wide range of things but I am mainly working with mechanical machinery and the maintenance of these in an industry setting; it’s a big responsibility. But the best thing is that I’m earning whilst I learn, that’s really a big advantage.

“I would tell anyone who is looking to do an apprenticeship to make sure you find the right training provider and the right course. When you have this, you can’t go far wrong.”

WHAT DID COMMUNITY LEADERS SAY?

Mike Ashworth, strategic director for economy, transport and environment at Derbyshire County Council, said: “Derbyshire County Council has concerns over the impact of the closure of NLT on its current learners, some 220 Derbyshire residents. It is essential that there is quality provision based within the area to support not only local learners, but more importantly businesses within the area. This is of particular significance with the developments around HS2. Engineering is a key sector within the Chesterfield economy and it requires the support of a number of quality training providers, who have a base within the county. A key element of the apprenticeship reforms is to offer employers choice; it is therefore imperative that manufacturing employers in the Chesterfield area continue to have a choice.”

Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins said: “The training that NLT provides offers real value to people in Chesterfield. It would reduce the choice to learners and businesses if that offer was to fold.”

Scott Knowles, chief executive at East Midlands Chamber, said: The recent apprenticeship reforms primary purpose has been to ensure that employers across Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire have a robust choice of providers when considering their apprenticeship requirements which meets the primary criteria for the introduction of the apprenticeship reforms. It is essential that our members have access to a choice of good quality apprenticeship providers, both from Further Education and independent private sector providers to ensure the tailored solution is available that meets their apprenticeship needs.”

Dominic Stevens, Destination Chesterfield manager, said: “One of Chesterfield’s many strengths is the choice of education providers we have, from schools, colleges and Universities. This make us an attractive proposition for businesses looking to locate here as they know we can provide the training they require for their staff literally on their doorstep. It is important moving forward that businesses and learners continue to have a choice of provision for their sector from a number of local providers.”

Chris Cox.
Jacob Saxton.
Luke Retallic.