3 February 2015

Skills Training UK goes higher with second ‘Excellent’ in Merlin Standard

Skills Training UK has once again been awarded an ‘Excellent’ score in the Merlin Standard Accreditation of quality in its supply chain management. It is the only organisation to be awarded the ‘Excellent’ rating twice, achieving a higher (92%) score than its first Accreditation in 2012, when it was awarded 86%.

The Merlin Standard is the recognised benchmark for the delivery of high quality supply chains. It was a requirement by the Department for Work and Pensions for all Prime Contractors of the European Social Fund 2011-13 Support for Troubled Families and the Education Funding Agency’s Youth Contract to undertake the assessment in 2012 and be reaccredited every two years.

Skills Training UK, the Merlin Assessment Report says, is forward thinking and has clear strategies to ensure flexible and robust supply chains throughout the life of contracts. Its effective strategies include working with partners to evolve the scope and variety within the supply chains with the key aim of addressing the needs of different customers.

By delivering a small percentage of contracts itself Skills Training UK has ensured it has a full understanding of the customer groups and the challenges the partners in its supply chains encounter. The commitment to working with a range of partners from the public, private and third sector and the recognition of the need to have local knowledge and a breadth of expertise in local communities are integral to its successful supply chain model.

As one of the Prime Contractors whose core business is employability and skills development, Skills Training UK has shown that real expertise in supply chain design and management is clearly not the preserve of large corporates, which appears to be accepted wisdom among some policy influencers. It has also twice achieved Strong, DWP’s highest grade for Provider Assurance (PAT).

As well as robust and highly effective processes, Skills Training UK, says the Merlin Assessment Report, shows a commitment to collaborative working and the sharing of good practice across the supply chain. It has ‘a positive and supportive approach to undertaking business with open, honest and transparent communications’. Partners are kept fully informed and have a clear understanding of expectations at every stage. They have trust and confidence in Skills Training UK’s senior management team and feel well supported in all aspects of contracting.

Skills Training UK’s intensive reaccreditation assessment by emqc Ltd took place in November over 12 days when 32 of its supply chain partners were interviewed, as well as the personnel from Skills Training UK involved in the strategic and day-to-day management of the supply chains. In addition, a detailed analysis was undertaken of IT systems, marketing and the written information and guidance provided to the supply chain, to gain a full understanding of the delivery models and the systems and processes used.

The Merlin Assessment Report says partners welcome the accessibility and responsiveness of Skills Training UK’s personnel, including their approach to discussing issues and challenges and supporting performance improvement and the delivery of a quality service. They give effective training regarding implementation of the systems and processes, paperwork requirements and functionality of Skills Training UK’s bespoke management information platform, Solution9.

Commenting on the successful Merlin reaccreditation, Martin Dunford OBE, Chief Executive of Skills Training UK, said: “Skills Training UK is driven by the genuine desire to improve the quality of life for the individuals in the communities where we work. Developing and supporting local, effective and trustworthy partnerships in our supply chain underpins this goal and we are very pleased with the Merlin Standard Accreditation.”

Paul Bridle, Managing Director at emqc Ltd, which carried out the assessment on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions and Education Funding Agency, said: “It is a testament to Skills Training UK that despite achieving a high score the first time, the organisation did not sit back but strove to improve further. Skills Training UK embraced the Merlin Standard as an opportunity to find areas for improvement and that is a testament to the organisation at every level.”

Stewart Segal, CEO of the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP), said: “This is a great achievement by Skills Training UK, especially as they are the first organisation to get an Excellent twice, which shows a consistent commitment to developing and maintaining an effective supply chain.  Skills Training UK has a proud record of working with their partners and they use the Merlin principles across the range of provision which also includes Traineeships and Apprenticeships as well as the DWP provision.”

The Merlin Standard Assessment report has been published in full at: http://www.merlinstandard.co.uk/merlin-accredited-organisations.php or for further information about Skills Training UK please see www.skillstraininguk.com

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