The training provider assessment panel

This week, we’ve been travelling around St Andrews and the East Neuk, introducing our training provider assessment process to the employers who will be helping us to form our assessment panel.  We have representatives from ‘Stay in St Andrews’, St Andrews Bed and Breakfast Association, the Merchant’s Association, and the Fife Tourism Alliance, each of whom has kindly volunteered their time to help us mark the applications from training providers who want to list their courses on the St Andrews Skills Academy website.

The first person we met was Ben McLeod, manager of the House Restaurants in St Andrews. He was good enough to drag himself away from his restaurants during the lunchtime rush to meet us in the Gateway Centre. Representing the Merchants’ Association, Ben turned up looking like the epitome of cool, with beautiful leather accessories and a casual shirt.

Straight after meeting Ben, we headed over to the Old Course Hotel, where we sat in the beautifully appointed library, sipping cappucinos and nibbling homemade shortbread.  You might be forgiven for thinking that we were taking an afternoon break, but actually, these were just the luxurious surroundings for a strictly business call to Anna Maciver, the Senior Training Specialist at the Old Course Hotel, and the second member of our employer panel, representating ‘Stay in St Andrews’.

Later on, I met with Ken Lawson, the charming owner of the Spindrift Guesthouse in Anstruther.  He leads the Fife Tourism Alliance, and kindly offered his time to help us with the assessments, despite his tastefully decorated guesthouse being one of the busiest in the East Neuk. Spending around ten minutes summarizing the assessment procedure, I stayed with Ken for about another twenty minutes discussing the Fife tourism climate and setting the world (or the East Neuk, at least) to rights.

Finally, to James Yule, chairman of the Bed & Breakfast Association, and owner of Braeside House Bed & Breakfast.  Extremely efficient but also highly competent, James grasped the process within minutes of my arrival, which meant that I could only enjoy the embrace of his exceptionally comfortable sofa for a very wee while.

This might sound like all play and no work, but we at the St Andrews Skills Academy think that it is vital to have the voices of employers on this assessment panel.  Employers are the ones who will be using the training providers listed on our site, and so employers should have a say in deciding which providers should be approved. The four people who have so generously volunteered their expertise to our assessment panel are going to be helping us to maintain that vital employer focus.

At the same time, we don’t want to disadvantage any training providers, so we’ve made the assessment process completely anonymous. Training providers send me their application forms, and I remove any personal or business names, replacing them instead with a unique identifying code.

I then send the new, anonymous file, out to the panel.  They fill out an online marksheet for each application code.  The panel gives marks out of 5 for three different areas: ‘Sector and Employer Engagement’, ‘Feedback and Evaluation Procedures’ and ‘Meeting and Exceeding Client Expectations’.  A total mark of 9/15 or more entails a pass, and training providers who achieve this are approved to appear on our website.

We’re currently in the process of marking our first eight new applicants, and most these will be entering our website within a few weeks of the launch.  Watch this space!

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