Since its conception in 2020, the B-Skill team has been passionate about engaging employers and using work-based learning programmes to develop teams, raise the aspirations and achievements of learners, and in so doing to improve the performance of their organisations and the wider economy.
As a national training provider, based in the North-East, B-Skill offers Apprenticeships, Traineeships, Learner Loan and AEB funded learning, CPD training and training consultancy in the youth worker and beauty industries as well as across leadership and management, business, logistics and operations.
A top-down strategy of digitalisation
Under the direction of CEO, Paul Wileman, the B-Skill team wanted to introduce an end-to-end system, as they were determined to amalgamate and digitise as many of their systems and procedures as possible. They knew this would help them to reduce time spent on admin tasks, save on storage space and enable them to focus on quality. Their overall goal is to have the full breadth of their provision delivered through Aptem, recognising the agility that’s needed to flex their offering within new funding streams such as Bootcamps.
Forging a partnership approach from the start
B-Skill purchased Aptem shortly before Covid struck in 2020. The timing of this meant that the team had to work very quickly to get the system set up due to all delivery going remote. Nicole Fenwick, B-Skill’s Compliance, Data and Audit Lead, explains, “Quickly adapting our technology to fit the new reality was the only way in which we could both continue to work with existing learners and enrol new learners. B-Skill has a very proactive culture and we were working really hard to get everything we needed from Aptem.”
The B-Skill team worked well with their Implementation Consultant, and quickly became a valued partner to Aptem in terms of continuous improvement of the platform. For example, in order to continue with their internal processes, they needed the functionality to track and monitor progress of all learners, including those that weren’t levy-funded. Aptem developers rolled out changes to the Power BI functionality which meant they could access the data and reports they needed, to satisfy Ofsted and ESFA audit requirements.
“We have continuously reported and suggested key features that need to be added/enhanced,”, explains Nicole. “We are proud to have spearheaded some of these developments that we know make a huge difference to other providers, and enable Aptem to continue to adapt to changing customer priorities and demands.”
How the B-Skill / Aptem partnership supports business growth
There are several key ways the B-Skill and Aptem partnership is helping to support business growth.
“We are continuously looking to engage more employers in order to grow our apprenticeships provision as well as the short course/commercial side of things. We often mention Aptem during those conversations, and they find our streamlined, digital approach appealing. Not all providers can offer that experience; it’s a selling point for us.”
Onboarding remotely, at scale
“Being able to digitally enrol learners from anywhere has a huge impact. For example, we work with a large transporting logistics employer. All of the learners, apprentices, and line managers use Aptem. It saves a lot of time from a processing point of view not having to manually input learner data into the ILR from paper-based forms as we used to do with our previous MIS system. Being an end-to-end system, Aptem has saved time in lots of areas and makes the whole process so much easier to manage.”
Making it as easy as possible for learners
“As Aptem is an end-to-end system, our learners have a better experience. With a Single Sign On and integrations such as Functional Skills, the learners don’t have to constantly log in and out of different systems. We constantly adapt our teaching methods and services to meet the demands of modern life and ensure we remain a pioneer among training providers. The apprentices’ user journey is critical to our success in achieving that.”
Expanding national coverage
As a national provider, the use of Aptem supports how we work with employers across the region and beyond. “Because tutors can log into the system from wherever they are, and use it to support their learners, we are not restricted to certain areas. This helps us to broaden our reach in terms of how we recruit high-quality tutors as well as forging new relationships with employer partners and reaching new learners.”
Understanding the data
“With our previous MIS system, we would only use it for funded learners. We put everyone on Aptem, and by doing so we are able to analyse our pipeline, analysing the data to spot trends around where the conversions and higher learner volumes are, for example looking at particular funding streams, coaches or subjects. With the click of a button, we can interrogate the built-in reports, which gives us valuable data to share with senior management to help shape business decisions. The new Console interface makes the numbers much easier to digest and enables us to keep on top of progress, retention and achievement.”
Internal team set-up, culture and processes
The B-Skill team structure and ethos has helped forge a successful partnership with Aptem. There are two key leads on Aptem. Alan Harwood, Quality Coordinator, takes the lead on the curriculum and the building of all B-Skill’s resources and learning plans. Nicole then leads on the management of all other aspects – including the building of programmes, review management, MIS, ILR, funding documents, compliance documents, learner enrolments, and more. Both have support from their teams within B-Skill that feed into these different areas. Nicole continues to work closely with Aptem, having monthly account review meetings with a dedicated Customer Success Manager. These are used to discuss future development, address any issues, and provide support.
Aptem as a critical platform for B-Skill’s future plans
“Aptem is the base of all departments within B-Skill and will eventually be used for everything. This is why we are keen to build on our close partnership and continue to be a proactive and supportive voice as our business and the Aptem system evolve,” Nicole explains. B-Skill’s dedicated Customer Success Manager adds, “I would say that the B-Skill team is very solutions-focused. Nicole and her colleagues, including the CEO, Paul, come to our regular meetings with a positive approach and plenty of suggestions around continuous improvement. It makes for a rewarding, long-term partnership.”
To see the benefits of Aptem for yourself, get in touch with our team or book a demo.