Sittingbourne training firm judged to be ‘outstanding’

Sittingbourne-based Mainstream Training Limited, which specialises in providing adult employability courses to alleviate the country’s HGV driver shortage, has received a first-class report following a recent Ofsted inspection.

The inspection, the first full inspection since 2017, follows a significant expansion of the training that Mainstream delivers.

The four-person inspection team found the Quality of Education, the Behaviours and Attitudes and the Adult Learning Programmes to be ‘outstanding’, while overall effectiveness was deemed to be ‘good’.

The Ofsted report states: “Leaders have a clear and ambitious vision: to support employers experiencing skills shortages in the transport, logistics and highways maintenance sectors. They work closely with the government and the Ministry of Defence to support the national recruitment of HGV drivers”.

In the past 18 months over 1,100 learners have gained HGV licences through Mainstream and there are currently 458 learners enrolled on the HGV skills bootcamp training.

The Report went on to say: “Leaders have high expectations for their learners and apprentices and are passionate about promoting social mobility by working closely with Jobcentre Plus, local prisons and charities to provide beneficial training and preparation for work”.

Mark Smith, managing director of Mainstream Training, said: “We are very proud of the training that we deliver, and to have the quality of provision confirmed via a thorough Ofsted inspection is a fantastic endorsement for our whole team.

“Our training provision has greatly expanded over recent years and we are providing the skills that the UK needs from learners who often face significant barriers to employment.

“Over 40% of our learners gain employment as a result of the training we deliver, and that is down to the dedication of our staff.

“Although our current contract with the Department of Education (DoE) is coming to its end shortly, this report demonstrates that Mainstream has a bright future as we continue to deliver highly valued employability skills training.

“The HGV Skills Bootcamp runs until March 2024, and we are hopeful of an extension for up to six years. In addition to the 1,000-plus learners who pass through our HGV Skills Bootcamp each year, we also deliver over 3,000 HGV licences for the British Armed Forces, making us one of the largest HGV training businesses in the UK.

“Whilst the fantastic Ofsted outcome and the continued success of our Bootcamp and military contracts is most welcome, this has been tainted and somewhat overshadowed by the unexpected and surprising news that the DoE has not renewed our Adult Education contract (AEB) which will now end on 31 July.

“Under this contract, we provided much-needed vocational forklift and road maintenance training to over 300 jobseekers within Swale, Kent and Medway each year, most of whom went on to secure employment.

“We have successfully operated this provision for over ten years, and it is with great sadness that we now need to make fourteen much-valued colleagues redundant.

“What makes the news so surprising is that Ofsted was particularly impressed by the work we did with local jobseekers and the opportunities that our training provided to help our learners gain employment.”

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