The University of Sheffield's Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) Training Centre, which is part of the AMRC Group in Rotherham, was judged ‘good’ in all aspects following the inspection last month.
In the report inspectors said there had been a ‘relentless focus’ on improving the quality of education that apprentices receive at the training centre and that weaknesses identified at the previous inspection – in which they were deemed to ‘require improvement’ – had been successfully addressed.
They praised the centre’s leaders and managers for successfully developing an ‘inclusive culture of high expectations through apprenticeship provision’ and for providing a curriculum that is ‘well aligned’ to the needs of employers.
Nikki Jones, Director of the AMRC Training Centre, said the ‘good’ judgement is testament to the hard work of apprentices, training centre staff and the wider university.
“Since the last inspection we have been working relentlessly and I’m thrilled we are now on our journey towards becoming outstanding,” she said.
“This result has been achieved by working hand-in-hand with the wider University of Sheffield, our Industry Board, employers and our apprentices – and we’re extremely grateful for that continued support.
“We’re meeting the skills needs of the economy through the careful way in which we have designed our curriculum and how we are delivering it around the regional need.
“The University of Sheffield, to the most senior level, is very positive about the quality of education for our apprentices and that’s demonstrated in this report. It shows the Russell Group of Universities can make a real difference.
“What really stands out for me in this report is the recognition inspectors have given to our apprentices for their professionalism and exemplary behaviour.
“This means a great deal to us because we aren’t just engineering the advanced manufacturing workforce of the future but creating good citizens too.
“We’re looking forward to turning that good into outstanding.”
Outcomes for apprentices were also said to be good, with the large majority making ‘good progress’, achieving their qualifications and gaining high grades in exams.
However, inspectors said that a small minority of apprentices ‘do not make all the progress of which they are capable’, because of occasional weaknesses in the planning of learning.
Keith Ridgway, founder and Executive Dean of the University of Sheffield AMRC, added: “This is great news for Nikki and her team and for the growing numbers of young people across our region who see engineering apprenticeships and degree apprenticeships as a debt-free pathway to a challenging and rewarding career that makes a positive impact on the world around us.
“It’s great, too, that the report recognises how Nikki and her team have successfully created an inclusive culture of high expectations for our apprentices, and how this leads to exemplary standards of behaviour in apprentices who are confident, courteous and helpful, attend well and work to deadlines effectively. We produce great engineers and good citizens.
“As the report says, there is a significant need for skilled engineers in the region, both from indigenous companies and from inward investors who increasingly see the Sheffield City Region as the place to put down roots.”
Inspectors also said leaders and managers have taken successful action to improve the retention of female engineering apprentices through targeted ‘Women in Engineering’ events and placing them with supportive employers that have strong female representation at all levels of the workforce.