Bath-based pharmaceutical manufacturing company Bath ASU is one of the first businesses in the country to design and implement its own BTEC qualification against the new Qualifications and Credit Framework.
The company, which has 70 staff and manufactures chemotherapy treatments for public and private sector hospitals all over the country, decided to establish its own internal training qualification for its highly specialised manufacturing process, ensuring that its staff are all able to meet the exacting standards required to operate in cleanrooms.
Director Chris Watt opted for BTEC accreditation. “We are absolutely committed to our staff and we have to operate to the very highest professional standards. We previously had a training manual that we had established over several years and it took new staff about six months to become fully productive using it. We decided that we had to have specialised training and the only way that this could be made relevant to our requirements was to design it ourselves.”
Bath ASU looked at NVQ and BTEC accreditation. “Both had strengths and weaknesses but we chose the BTEC route because we believe the requirements to demonstrate the achievement of the BTEC standard are more exacting and the requirements to produce direct evidence are more rigorous,” says Chris Watt. “Having made this decision we have been delighted with the level of support we have received from EdExcel, which owns BTEC. They have provided a considerable level of support in assisting us to put the qualification together. We simply couldn’t fault them and with their assistance we now lead our industry in this area.”
“In establishing the qualification we had to address qualification and training – ensuring that all new and existing staff were equally skilled and qualified,” says Chris Watt. “The course guarantees that our staff are given everything they need to be safe and productive. The training is delivered in four units in 40 hours of guided learning over a two-week course, culminating in exams and practical assessments. So far 21 of our staff have passed the standard and have been awarded BTEC certificates. From a business perspective this has already given us a great competitive advantage. New staff are now qualified and productive in two weeks, rather than the six months previously required and all staff entering the production team now have far more consistent skills and knowledge.”
Although the company designed the training scheme primarily for internal use, it also made certain that it can be used externally. “We regularly deliver training to the NHS and we can now offer our BTEC to NHS staff, ensuring that they are trained to the highest recognisable standard,” says Chris Watt.
“What Bath ASU has achieved is quite remarkable,” says Amy Athwal, EdExcel’s Regional Development Manager – Workbased Learning. “Their course is extremely well designed and combines both theoretical aspects and practical applications. It meets highly exacting standards in the methods of both delivery and assessment.”