Two big employers hit Ofsted low

Two big name employers have been hit with damning grade four Ofsted inspection results.

InterContinental Hotels Group Services Company (IHG) and G4S Care & Justice Services (UK) Ltd and were both branded inadequate across the board by the education watchdog in inspection reports published this month.

IHG, which incorporates Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn among others and offers intermediate apprenticeships in more than 23 of its hotels in England, came under Ofsted fire with not a single apprentice having qualified since its training began in 2012.

And G4S, which hit the headlines during last summer’s Olympics when it failed to fulfil its contract to provide security for the London Games, was criticised in the report over low success rates, “insufficient” learning support and inadequate leadership and management.

The damning Ofsted gradings for the two employer providers come amid a number of high-profile reports — such as those by former Dragons’ Den investor Doug Richards, jeweller Jason Holt and BAE Systems UK group managing director Nigel Whitehead — that have called for increased employer ownership of apprenticeship design and vocational qualifications.

Nevertheless, the Ofsted report on IHG, which had never been inspected before, said: “IHG has not provided sufficient staff or resources to equip heads of department and operations managers with the skills and confidence to carry out their roles as assessors and verifiers on the apprenticeship programme.

“It has provided too few staff to manage, support and improve the delivery of the programme.”

Hazel Hogben, IHG head of human resources, said the company was “disappointed” by the report.

She said: “Despite noting our staff’s effectiveness in developing employees’ skills and observing that IHG’s approach to corporate and social responsibility is well understood and supported  by its employees, they made a series of criticisms of our programmes which we have very much taken to heart.

“Last week we met with the Skills Funding Agency/National Apprenticeship Service to discuss in detail our response to the Ofsted report.

“As a result we have developed an in-depth action plan to address each of the concerns raised including speed of progress, quality assurance, monitoring and data capture.

“IHG remains committed to its goal of offering 400 apprenticeships between this year and 2015 and to ensuring that we receive a better judgement grade from Ofsted next time we are inspected.”

Meanwhile, the G4S grade four result followed the firm’s second ever inspection visit from Ofsted. The first visit, in September 2005, had also resulted in an inadequate grading.

However, commenting on the latest grade four result, a spokesperson for G4S, which employs more than 5,300 people and offers apprenticeships for employees working in the prisons and secure care and training centres it administers, said: “As a large UK employer, we continue to be committed to a range of qualifications including apprenticeships and place great emphasis on creating long-term and sustainable programmes which support employees’ individual development and future career paths.

“While the findings of the report are disappointing we do believe that, by working closely with Ofsted and our partners, we will be able to make significant improvements to the programme.

“Since the inspection was carried out, we have already implemented a number of the suggestions identified and are carrying out extensive reviews that will address other areas which have been mentioned in this report.

“This includes the introduction of lead assessors, and an enhanced governance arrangement which includes multi-disciplinary business support.

“We recognise that there is clearly more to do, however we have worked over the last three years to develop in-house programmes of learning that are mapped and assessed against National Occupational Standards.

“These have been endorsed by both Edexcel and Skills for Justice as meeting qualification requirements and have been identified as an area of strength in the report.”