The apprenticeship programme delivered at Tarmac's National Skills and Safety Park, located at Nether Langwith Quarry, near Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, received its first full inspection in early August, and Tarmac is currently the only employer provider in the UK to have achieved Outstanding in 2023.
The focus of the inspection was Tarmac's apprenticeship delivery known as the Professional Operator Development Programme (PODP). PODP is designed around three apprenticeship standards: mineral processing mobile and static plant operator, mineral and construction product sampling and testing operations and road surfacing operative. All are delivered through a series of workshops, e-learning modules and practical on-the-job training.
The apprenticeships encompass various subjects that aim to improve the ability of the business' frontline teams to safely and efficiently operate and maintain equipment and machinery. These apprenticeships are beneficial for individuals entering the industry for the first time and for colleagues to reskill and enhance their knowledge, skills, and behaviours to advance in their careers.
A three-person Ofsted team inspected Tarmac's apprenticeship programme over three days, visiting the Park and, Mountsorrel and Whitwell sites and discussing the programme with the L&D team, apprentices and line supervisors. They examined five distinct areas: quality of education, behaviours and attitudes, personal development, leadership and management, and apprenticeships, grading all as Outstanding.
The Ofsted inspectors praised the learners' "rapid development" of technical skills and approaches to health, safety and inclusion. They also noted that 32% of those who had completed the PODP apprenticeship and remained within the business had been promoted to a frontline leader position.
Peter Kay, head of learning and development at Tarmac, said: "We are incredibly proud that the National Skills and Safety Park received this Outstanding rating from Ofsted, particularly as it was our first full inspection. We regularly have great feedback on the Park from colleagues, and receiving external validation is recognition of the quality of learning that takes place.
"We developed the Park as a place where our apprentices and other colleagues get practical training on using real equipment safely and effectively. Rather than being in a classroom, they can learn what good looks like and get a solid grounding in health, safety and wellbeing building on the learning that takes place on-site. Upskilling our frontline colleagues is critical to the future success of the business.
"Achieving an Outstanding rating has only been possible thanks to the efforts of the dedicated people working at the Park and the enthusiasm and commitment from both the learners and their line supervisors."
Graeme Boylen, HR director West Europe CRH, said: "Achieving Outstanding is recognition of Tarmac's commitment to developing its people and the professionalism and dedication of our team. We offer a wide range of professional development and training initiatives – irrespective of age and experience – aimed at creating a highly skilled workforce to support the delivery of the UK's infrastructure ambitions.
"Apprenticeships, graduate schemes, and employee development programmes have all played a key part in the company's ongoing commitment to developing and growing skills within the industry."
Since it was first opened in February 2020, the Park has welcomed over 10,000 visitors to complete training days or programmes.
The full Ofsted report can be found at: https://reports.ofsted.gov.uk/provider/30/2654242