An outstanding across the board rating has been handed out by Ofsted to a West Midlands independent training provider that specialises in engineering apprenticeships.

The glowing report on In-Comm Training and Business Services Limited was published today.

Its grade one verdict was up from a good rating following the company’s last inspection in 2015.

The report recognised that “apprentices’ achievement of qualifications is outstanding; the additional qualifications many achieve help to prepare them well for promotion opportunities and their future careers.”

“Apprentices become very highly skilled engineers, business support staff and supervisors; they develop their skills rapidly”, it added, with many undertaking significant responsibility with their employers early in their apprenticeships.

Inspectors further recognised that employers play a key role in planning and delivering the high-quality apprenticeship programmes.

The report highlighted the “strong partnership work” with employers in Shrewsbury, where In-Comm, together with local companies, has “set up a successful training academy for engineering apprenticeships”.

“Employers value highly the guidance and support they receive from In-Comm staff about apprenticeship provision and training generally,” it added.

Highly motivated apprentices were also said to “benefit from highly effective support from trainers and employers” that helps them maintain “rapid progress towards achieving their qualifications within the planned time”.

Meanwhile their skills in maths and English, and information technology are able to “develop to higher levels”.

Directors and the senior leadership team were also praised for being “very ambitious” and highly successful in pursuing high standards for the quality of provision.

All staff, the report added work towards challenging performance targets and have clearly defined responsibilities.

It has produced impressive results for students as the report said “outcomes for apprentices have improved considerably since the previous inspection and are now outstanding”.

“The vast majority of apprentices successfully complete their courses in the planned time and at a level that is much higher than national rates,” the report added.

In-Comm, which had no subcontractors at the time of inspection, is an ITP established in 1982.

Its focuses on the training needs of small to medium-sized employers from the engineering industry located in the West Midlands, with off-the-job training taking place in centres in Aldridge and Shrewsbury.

There were 334 learners on apprenticeship programmes at intermediate, advanced and higher levels at the time of inspection.

This was across the subject areas of engineering and manufacturing technologies; warehousing and storage; business administration and customer service; supervisory management; and information technology.

Around two thirds of the apprentices were on engineering programmes, with most of the remainder on business and management programmes.

Bekki Phillips [pictured above left], managing director at In-Comm Training, said: “To secure ‘Outstanding’ rating from Ofsted is a fantastic achievement for everyone connected with the business: our management team, our trainers, our partners and, importantly, the 400+ apprentices and learners we support every year.”

“Over the last three years, we have worked tirelessly to raise the profile of vocational learning, in order to meet the acknowledged skills gap and have put in place a number of ambitious plans to make sure we are seen as an ‘outstanding provider,” she said.

Gareth Jones [pictured above right], who runs the business with Ms Phillips, added: “This includes investing more than £1 million in employing the best staff and installing the best equipment and forging exciting new partnerships with employers like our centre opened in Shrewsbury with Salop Design & Engineering.”

Paul Warner, AELP research director, told FE Week: “Our congratulations to In-Comm Training.  This is a fantastic achievement and shows what a difference can be made to young people’s lives in sectors critical to the success of the government’s industrial strategy.

“The funding reforms for 16-18 apprenticeships and for SMEs’ apprenticeships must not put this type of provision in jeopardy but there is a real danger that they will unless ministers act quickly.”

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  1. Congratulations to the good people at In-Comm. A real achievement.
    Although this story is a celebratory one about one of our better training providers Paul Warner makes a point that is not being picked up sufficiently around the upcoming disastrous impact of funding changes. Some of the very good providers I work with have never been so anxious about the future and can see withdrawal from offering apprenticeships as a strong and real possibility. All very well Government saying that they want to drive up numbers, quality and the clarity of off-the-job training, but in reality cost margins have been narrowing and are going to go into losses for many. The costs of end point assessments are still not clear but I have a prediction based on other things. Once some use it to make as much profit as they can for the service given, others will follow the same fees, just as the universities did with their £9,000 maximum being charged as the norm. We also have the possibility that end tests will impact hugely on driving success rates down as many of our young people are simply not very good at passing them. Someone in Government needs to start being realistic about increasing funding and not suffocating those who need the resources to deliver change effectively. The advisers that should be listened to are the types of people who deliver quality apprenticeships, not the Oxbridge think tank types who are clueless about the reality of work-based training.