Apprenticeships and EPAs at the Smart Gas Training & Assessment Centre
“This has been a real success story in terms of the number of apprentices we have enrolled with the support of BPEC’s Gas Engineering Apprenticeship programme and End-point Assessment services.”
Based in Ashbourne in Derbyshire, Smart Gas Training provides nationally accredited training courses and other services to students, employers and F.E. Colleges. Its programmes range from apprenticeships to additional training and re-assessment for professional gas engineers and plumbers who want to upgrade their qualifications.
“We pride ourselves on being very personal and approachable. We want our apprentices to feel like they are in a safe vibrant learning environment and not just an additional number in a large class,” says Patrick O’Sullivan, Director.
“We want all of our apprentices to gain everything they need from Smart Gas Training to ensure a successful career pathway, this includes not just Gas Engineering Training, but also behaviourism skills, maths and English development and Training that supports life skills,” says Patrick O’Sullivan, Director. “This is why all of our lecturers are trained to the highest standards and they place a large emphasis on developing skills that an apprentice can use throughout their career pathway. Our purpose-built centre(s) provide the latest learner-friendly facilities and services – and we work closely with BPEC as a trusted partner.”
“When we set up the company, our vision was to create a centre to train apprentices in more effective ways using a more personal approach, delivering better services and training than they might have previously experienced,” Patrick continues. The Smart Gas directors shared a background in apprenticeship training. “We knew about BPEC already, and they helped us to establish the business in the ways that we wanted. BPEC people has always been helpful, fast to respond, extremely knowledgeable, and trustworthy
‘Ignite your potential’
The Smart Gas Training and Assessment Centre gives students a personalised experience in a relaxed and friendly environment, including a purpose-built IT suite to carry out research and take online exams. “Once we had identified an appropriate site, BPEC supported us when we were designing the centre,” Patrick says.
“Our company ethos has always been around employing local people to support the local community, as well as providing the highest quality services and ensuring they are accessible to local apprentices.” A commitment to flexible provision includes, for example, employers being able to choose when they want training and assessments to take place, including weekends, bank holidays and evenings.
A fast-growing business
Smart Gas now operates three units in Ashbourne: classroom, practical and IT suite, and teaching apprentices through BPEC’s Level 3 Gas Engineering Diploma. Patrick says, “We generally have full enrolment each term and have been so successful that we’ve had to run extra classes. We are teaching apprentices five days a week, and already have a waiting list for next term.” Smart Gas has doubled its staff headcount within 12 months and is looking to recruit further staff members this year due to the current demand for apprenticeship training.
Patrick adds, “A key benefit of working with BPEC is the ongoing support, advice and guidance they provide in terms of getting the apprentices ready for EPA. They offer non-mandatory products that fit seamlessly into our gas engineering apprenticeship standard programme. The BPEC roadmap for EPAs is easy to follow for providers, apprentices and employers.”
BPEC’s End-point Assessment Organisation (EPAO) is approved by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) to deliver the Gas Engineering (Level 3) EPA.
“We are delighted to work so closely with Smart Gas Training, helping the company to deliver on its vision,” says Matt Skelding, Head of Operations and Development at BPEC. “It’s a strong relationship and one that benefits all parties involved, most importantly students, apprentices and their employers.”
Patrick O’Sullivan says, “BPEC is brilliant at what it does and is highly supportive: the way BPEC helped Smart Gas at the beginning demonstrated the trust it had in us, and the confidence we had in BPEC to deliver what we needed. We are regularly approached by other AOs and EPAOs but we would never move away from BPEC.”