Leading UK powered access provider Nationwide Platforms has seen the second cohort of trainers graduate from its new IPAF trainee programme.

Currently holding a 100% pass rate, the programme is designed to close the trainer skills gap and encourage younger people to become certified instructors. Jessica Taylor, Jennifer Roddis, Paulina Stempnakowska, Robbie Hayhurst and Matt Dawson were the latest five participants to graduate.  

Previously, prospective trainers had to have a minimum of three years of operator experience before advancing to training others. However, this has resulted in many trainers retiring with no replacement, creating a subsequent skills gap.  

Designed and created by Nationwide Platforms’ Operational Training Manager Brian Sneddon and Senior IPAF Instructor Neil Laws in partnership with the International Powered Access Federation, (IPAF), the new programme accelerates the education process through a mix of face-to-face classes, on the job training and complimentary e-learning, over an intensive 10-15 week course.  

The course covers all aspects of operation, including an expected minimum of 150 operating hours, as well as administration and trainer management. The programme is tail ended by an intensive two-week assessment period that vigorously tests applicants’ knowledge and practical skills.  

Jessica, Jennifer, Paulina, Robbie and Matt had to travel to different locations to gain experience and knowledge from a variety of Nationwide Platforms depots.  

23-year-old Jessica, from Teesside, came from an agricultural background and was used to operating machinery but lacked the management skills required to be a trainer. The course equipped her with the knowledge and tools to train others to match her operational experience. 

She commented, “The jump from operator to instructor is significant. It was eye-opening to learn how much I didn’t know, but the course quickly filled the gaps in my knowledge. I had the most amazing experience, with some great people who were always there to offer support. I would highly recommend this course to everyone.” 

Jennifer, 22, hailing from Hereford, previously worked on farms and construction sites, much like Jessica. Similarly adept at operating machinery, Jennifer found the IT side of the training the most challenging but the programme gave her all the support she required.  

She said, “Nationwide Platforms were extremely helpful, offering hands-on guidance. All the instructors were brilliant and went the extra mile to help us out. It could be extremely challenging having a great deal of information to absorb and memorise. However, as you progress, the wealth of technical information and safety information start to seep into the practical, hands-on training. I plan to take forward all I’ve learnt and do further training.” 

Paulina, mid-30’s and based in Leicester, was inspired by previous applicant Kelly-Ann Macgillivray to apply for the course. As a member of Nationwide Platforms’ fleet management team, Paulina had plenty of management and administration experience but far less hands-on operative knowledge. 

She said, “I saw how much Kelly-Ann benefited from doing this course, so when the opportunity arose, I didn’t hesitate. It’s been a tough but rewarding journey and I couldn’t have done it without the wonderful support of the tutors and other participants. One challenge I faced was the pronunciation of certain English words, as it’s my second language. Communication is vital when training other operatives, so I had to make sure my pronunciation was clear and correct. I’m now in a learning groove, and I’m keen to continue gaining more qualifications.” 

Robbie, 39, from Liverpool, previously worked as a regional driver within Nationwide Platforms and even before the IPAF programme came out had expressed interest in becoming an instructor. His goal now he has qualified is to upskill within the training department as much as possible. 

Matt, 57, from St Helens, has almost three decades experience as an SV (Specialist Vehicles) operator for Nationwide Platforms. Matt has extensive knowledge with the kit and has travelled the country operating the largest machines on prestigious projects. Now he’s qualified, he hopes to learn as much as possible with the training department. 

Now fully rounded trainers, the cohort are looking forward to advancing their careers with Nationwide Platforms, through further training and career development.    

Brian Sneddon said, “This course is a fantastic way to build your skill set in a safe and supportive environment. It’s been wonderful having a new cohort who embody the talented people we work with, displaying amazing passion and commitment to their education. 

“We couldn’t have done this without the support of Neil Laws, who continues to take this course from strength to strength, giving up much of his personal time to provide a high-quality training experience for the participants. I can’t wait to see more cohorts come through the programme and encourage anyone looking for a new career path or to continue their own development to apply.” 

As Nationwide Platforms continues to finetune the course, applications for the next intake are currently open to internal and external applicants to increase the number of IPAF certified trainers.  

For more information on the IPAF training programme visit: https://training.nationwideplatforms.co.uk/en-gb/ipaf-training-courses  

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