Polestar's staff training not up to scratch, states Ofsted

Adam Hooker
Thursday, February 23, 2012

Polestar has vowed to improve its communication with employees, after an Ofsted report claimed that the overall effectiveness of the firm's current training programme was not up to scratch.

The company received a ‘grade four’ (inadequate) rating for its government-funded training scheme, which claimed that "very few learners finish their programme in the planned time and too many leave before they have successfully covered all aspects". Ofsted also claimed that management of the provision was "under-resourced".

However, the company was complimented for recognising the need to train and upskill its workforce,  as well as receiving recognition of its "very good" training facilities.

HR director Simon Jones said that one of the main reasons staff had not achieved the intended results was a failure to understand the amount of work that would be required outside their working hours.

He said: "Some may underestimate the amount of work that is expected of them in their own time. It is up to us to stress that point.

"For instance, we invite employees in on specific days when an assessor is on hand. We aren’t saying ‘you will do this’ – we would never force training – but we can encourage them to attend the training facility on their days off.

"We have also had difficulty with reduced capacity, which has hit the scheme in two ways. Some employees on the scheme leave, making it difficult to complete the training. But we also have fewer employees doing the same amount of work, so there is less down time."

Jones said a concern he had regarding the Ofsted report was that it treated Polestar like a college, rather than a manufacturer.

"Operations have to take priority and clearly we are very timely in terms of our company’s production," he said. "I do worry that Ofsted fails to understand the pressure to deliver on time."

One of the criticisms received by Polestar was a failure to improve on areas indicated in a previous report from 2009, when the company was criticised particularly for its service level agreement with Leeds College, which "failed to specify any clear key performance objectives".

Jones said: "We had a service level agreement in place, but Ofsted said that it wanted to see different things, which we are currently in the process of progressing. The improvements are based around the measurement of timely completion and reduced non-completes."


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