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Meet The Team: Nikki Smith

Nikki is our Training, Quality and Compliance Lead at OAS, helping our expert trainers to deliver high quality teaching and support to our learners and their employers. She joined our newly formed Quality and Compliance Team in March 2022, and is already working hard to push the quality of our apprenticeship delivery up to the next level.

We caught up with her just four months into her new role to find out what she’s enjoying so far, how OAS does things differently, and why she’s committed to making a difference for our trainers, our learners and our employer partners.

What is your role at OAS?

As the Training Compliance and Quality Lead here at OAS, I’m responsible for maintaining and implementing our quality processes, making sure that we’re raising the bar all the time and increasing the quality of our provision. This includes supporting training colleagues and learners too. I check that all the quality processes are being performed as they should be, and that our quality standards (like our Trainers’ Charter and Pledge for example) are adhered to. I also keep communications flowing between colleagues, learners and employer partners.

What do you enjoy most about working at OAS?

I absolutely love the people and the team spirit. The diversity of our team really interests me – everyone is from different backgrounds, with different skillsets they’ve gained on their journey. I like finding out where they’ve come from, what they’re about, and how I can help them. I enjoy making a difference – finding out what could work better for them and helping them to achieve that.

It’s great working with the employers too and hearing their positive feedback, I’ve been out to see quite a few of them already, and of course, I love working with the learners. It’s good to hear everyone’s perspective, because it helps us to understand what we can do to make the whole picture better. I’m quite a positive person. There will always be challenges and areas for improvement, especially when we’re aiming to be the best in the industry, but I enjoy pushing things forward and encouraging people to come along with me.

Why is OAS so important for local businesses / industry / people?

OAS is important because it has such a great future. It’s a leading training provider and the resources are phenomenal – it has the potential to meet the needs of so many other businesses in future-proofing their workforces. We need more people to understand what we do, and how we can help. Having worked in lots of Further Education (FE) colleges, the difference in what we provide to our learners at OAS is outstanding. If we keep pushing our quality forward, we’ll be the number one provider for the future of engineering apprenticeships, and I believe that’s where we should be. Our team is fantastically skilled, knowledgeable and talented, they really know their stuff.

How is OAS different from other training centres?

We offer a full-time programme, five days a week. Colleges tend to deliver apprenticeships through day release because they’re not able to accommodate the kind of programme we offer, largely due to resources and funding. I would say that one of the ways we’re different is that we have the facilities and resources to have learners in centre every single day of the week, with each learner using their own equipment – there’s no need to share kit. Specialising in engineering and manufacturing training also makes us stand out from the crowd, because we’re offering a bespoke service that completely focuses on the sector and its future. I’d also say that many training providers deliver simulated learning, whereas OAS offers a much more realistic work environment.

In your opinion, what are the benefits of choosing an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships are industry driven, high quality career paths – learners benefit from experiences in both the work and training environments. At OAS, you’re also working with people who are experts in their field, and who are giving you the skills that are relevant to you, and that you need to do your job. Our trainers are from industry, with first-hand experience in what they’re teaching. They bring their industrial expertise with them, and make sure they keep their skills and knowledge at the cutting edge through CPD training and skill sharing. Both my partner and son are mechanical and electrical engineers – they like to test my new knowledge at home!

Why should someone choose to study at OAS?

I know from my previous experiences that the training at OAS is second to none. It goes above and beyond what many other providers are offering. Everything is so current, from the facilities to the resources and the trainers’ skills and knowledge. We’re flexible in our approach, the training programme is bespoke to the individual as well as to the industry they work in. It’s a very welcoming environment, and our employer partners are proud of their learners, just as we are at OAS. We’re committed to supporting our learners and ensuring that everyone feels safe and secure throughout their journey with us. It’s a fantastic environment to work and learn in.