MT Training provides mobile learning facility for West Berkshire apprentices
A desire to find a different way to deliver apprenticeships has led a Brimpton man and his business partner to create their own mobile learning facility.
Rob Jones grew up in Thatcham and went to Kennet School. It was after finishing there that he got his first experience of apprenticeships – beginning his own carpentry apprenticeship at D&J Cole Joinery and attending Reading College at the same time.
“I was then doing a bit of work for myself on the side,” he explains. “I then went on to work for Newbury College a few days a week; working with 14-16 year olds, showing them basic skills.
“Then over the next few years I started doing a little bit more carpentry teaching too.”
Slowly building up his hours, Rob soon found himself working full time at Newbury College.
In 2008 he moved to east Berkshire when he spent the next decade as a full time carpentry and basic construction skills tutor at a college.
In 2015 he became a manager and found himself running the construction department.
“One of the jobs with that role was looking after all the apprentices in the department – the painters, decorators, electricians, carpenters,” Rob adds. “It was a massive job and I was looking after the construction and engineering side.”
But after 10 years at the college Rob was made redundant. He, however, saw it as the perfect opportunity to start up his own business, offering multi-trades training.
“It was a case of ‘do I go and work someone else or do it myself?’” he says. “I thought I had got quite a bit of experience – although I don’t know everything and I am still learning every day – so it was the right time to give it a go.”
Joining forces with another colleague from his days at the college, Craig Barwick, the two friends set up MT Training.
“We started off small, just offering construction NVQs,” says the self-confessed carp fishing fanatic. “The plan was always to eventually deliver apprenticeships because we knew how they worked and, more importantly, how they should work in terms of delivery.
“We didn’t know how but we knew we wanted to do it.”
In 2018 the pair then applied for the Apprenticeship Register – the government list of all their approved training providers.
As they began the process they began to work out the best way to deliver apprenticeships in a way that “was different to other people”.
“We had heard of other industries where there is a massive amount of interaction between the employer and the training provider,” dad-of-two Rob says. “We had heard that they operate at the learners place of work and we wanted to do that for construction.
“I remember vividly the hours and hours of business planning.”
“We didn’t want to just have one place of work because we wanted learners from other areas to be able to use us and we wanted to be able to offer things that other colleges couldn’t offer.
“We wanted to be able to reach people who couldn’t travel.
“So we decided to go for the mobile training workshop.”
Their next move was to buy a Luton van – “as big as we could find” – so it could be used as a mobile, changeable classroom.
The mobile workshop offers each learner an individual, personalised training environment, giving them the ability to focus on each individual’s particular needs.
MT Training is now able to offer sessions (for example) where a plasterer can plaster the walls one day, then the decorator can paint it the next, thanks to the removable and changeable equipment in the van.
“It is very exciting,” Rob enthuses. “We offer a one-to-one training session where we go out on site so the learners get so much more out of it.
“We can really hone in on skills the learner really needs.
“It is a very different concept and we think it works.”
The positive feedback from all the learners so far has certainly backed up that claim.
The company gained its Apprenticeship Register entry last August and took on its first apprentice in November.
“Out initial goal is to fill the capacity of the current van as it is,” 35-year-old Rob adds. “Then the plan is to get more vehicles as we grow.
“We always want to continue to offer a great service. It’s about working it out one learner at a time and making sure our quality is the best possible before moving on to the next step.”
The quality of the service they offer is such a priority for the business partners that they have arranged a self-ordered audit with Ofsted – a three day health session as Rob describes it.
“It is very exciting doing what I am doing,” he adds. “The learners get a lot of it and that really makes the difference.”
MT Training now offers online construction NVQs, which are achievable in four to six weeks, as well as on-site apprenticeships and CPCS plant training courses.
The selection of courses and apprenticeships they offer is continuing to grow and Rob says they pride themselves on making sure it always remains affordable, with the minimum amount of paperwork for both employers and trainees.
Rob is also keen to point out that you’re never too old to do an apprenticeship – providing you are learning a new skill you can be 16-65 years old.
MT Training will soon be running a free “how to get an apprenticeship” webinar offering tips on apprenticeships and how the company can help.
There will be two separate sessions; one for parents and prospective apprentices and another for employers.
The Brimpton-based company is keen to hear from anyone – parents, learners or employers – who would like to find out more about what it can offer.
You can email email@example.com or visit the website www.mttraining.co.uk