Elite Training

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Elite Training's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Elite Training is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett, MP
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles, MP


Highlighting best practice
Managing Director Mike Baker
Satisfied customers
Elite Training South West Ltd was founded in 2010 by
Managing Director Mike Baker. He had already built
up seven years’ experience working in adult education,
originally starting as a volunteer and progressing to a senior
manager. He tells
The Parliamentary Review
how he used
disappointment as inspiration for the next step in his career, and
has taken lessons from the mistakes he witnessed in the past.
The training company I had been working for closed its doors in 2010. This was
a very sad time for staff and learners, but I felt passionately that this was an
opportunity to start my own training company with the aim of making a difference.
I had a very clear vision of how training could be different: flexible learning, allowing
learners to choose the times and days that they attend training; small groups,
enabling better support and more tailored individual provision; not classroom-based,
taking away the fear factor of learning and respecting a learner’s speed. This was
our ethos from the very start and these remain our key valuestoday.
Community-based learning
It was clear very early on that Elite Training South West was not going to be a
training centre but a community centre. Maths, English and IT have been the
core of our business since its creation. We have now helped and supported over
2,000 learners to gain a nationally recognised qualification
It is easy to see the
obvious benefits of gaining qualifications in these subject areas, but what is often
overlooked is the difference we are making to an individual’s life.
»Managing Director: Mike Baker
»Established in 2010
»Located in Exeter, Devon
»Number of employees: 8
»Recently celebrated our
2,000th achievement
Elite Training South
We are grateful for the thank you
cards we receive and we display them
with great pride. It is the wording and
detail that demonstrate the difference
we are making. One learner remarked,
“Thanks to this course I am no longer
embarrassed to help my son with
his homework.” These comments
are exactly the reason I set up the
company, and when I have had a bad
day or week, I like to read these cards
and remind myself how important our
work is.
After a “learner voice” open day,
involving referral partners and past
and present learners, it was clear
that work-sector needs were not
being met in our community. We
designed a work-sector course that
not only covered the key employability
requirements, such as CV design
and maintenance, job searching
and presentation skills, but that also
involved units designed to build upon
feedback from our learners, such as
dealing with your first day at work,
co-operation in the workplace and
After successful trial courses,
employers started to approach us,
asking if we could run courses for their
recruitment; in return, each learner
would be guaranteed an interview,
resulting in 73 per cent of learners
who complete the course gaining
employment. A key strength of ours
has been the innovative courses
we have created that match our
community’s needs; being a small
business with dedicated staff, we are
able to react quickly to meet these
needs. Our projects include:
Digital Inclusion Project –
This project
has enabled us to provide free
IT training support in rural areas,
designed to reduce isolation. The
libraries kindly allow us to use their
space, and to date this project has
helped over 2,400 digitally isolated
Jobcentre “Open Sessions” –
the past two years we have been
providing IT drop-in support at
Exeter Jobcentre. This gives clients
the opportunity to receive quick IT
support without having to enrol on
First Aid Awareness Workshops –
successfully secured a contract that
allowed us to deliver first aid taster
sessions. This project has seen us give
200 people vital first aid skills.
Business Start-up Space –
the difficulties of setting up a
business, I wanted to help others. I set
up a business space that provides free
use of a computer, internet, printing,
telephone and meeting space.
This was completely unfunded and
resulted in two successful business
Outreach Programmes –
As our
reputation for quality and performance
spread through the county, many
community halls, schools and
Jobcentres sought our services.
We were able to set up a specialist
outreach programme, which has
enabled us to provide our services to
locations across Devon.
Putting young adults
into fulfilling careers
A key strength
of ours has been
the innovative
courses we have
created that
match our
needs; being a
small business
with dedicated
staff, we are
able to react
quickly to meet
these needs
Highlighting best practice
Universal Credit Ready –
Jobseekers having to change to the
new Universal Credit system, we were
able to set up a course supporting
people with the new operating
interface. This project has helped 300
learners with the transition.
Working hard to improve
We work very hard to cultivate referral
partners. Without a good relationship
with partners who signpost to us and
understand our principles, we would
not be able to support people of our
community. Transparency in what we
do, regular communication meetings
and celebration of success are crucial
to this relationship. We have invested
a great deal, and I am extremely
proud of our results and reputation,
but we never take them for granted
and always strive to do more. Our
new project for this coming year is
to help young people who are not in
education or employment.
We have overcome many hurdles
over the past eight years; the most
difficult period was when a competitive
training centre moved to Devon with
values very different from our own.
Competing with this organisation
financially was extremely challenging.
Our business model is to allow learners
to take quality time and enjoy the
learning experience, whereas the model
we were pitched against was set up to
accommodate 18 learners at a time,
with the intention that they completed
a 60-hour course in one week. Many
referral organisations bought into this,
as learners would be promised incentives
for completing the course such a free
first aid course or CSCS course.
Our enrolments were down by 90
per cent, staff morale was clearly
reduced and, more importantly, we
knew learners were being set up to
fail. We continued to do what we
knew we were good at and kept
to our values; this organisation has
now been closed following Ofsted
inspections. I am immensely proud of
what we have achieved over the past
eight years; none of this would have
been possible without our fantastic,
hard-working team, supportive and
knowledgeable referral partners and
our funders. Learn Devon deserves a
special mention for funding us for the
past eight years, and for supporting
our community values and learners;
they have embraced our ethos and
philosophy. I look forward to another
successful eight years and the
opportunity to help and support more
people in our community.
I am immensely proud of what we have
achieved over the past eight years;
none of this would have been possible
without our fantastic, hard-working
team, supportive and knowledgeable
referral partners and our funders
A range of services


The Parliamentary Review Publication, in which this article originally appeared, contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister