GQA Qualifications Blog

Tuesday 19 April 2016

Axia Solutions and Apprenticeships

GQA Approved Centre, Axia Solutions is an Ofsted Grade 1 training provider, based in Stoke on Trent and ranked as outstanding by inspectors. Operating independently, it is a wholly owned subsidiary of Newcastle-under-Lyme College, delivering a range of vocational training programmes, including print qualifications, designed to meet the demands of learners and employers. With their college links, Axia are now able to offer a much broader range of programmes and qualifications.

At their last Print EQA visit, Sean Hayes External Quality Assurer said “Axia’s whole approach is focused on quality and ensuring candidates and employers are given a first class service, well done to all involved.”

Working with Employees

Axia works with a range of employees in the North West, Cheshire, Staffordshire and Derbyshire to fulfill their training needs, delivering Apprenticeships, vocational qualifications and Maths and English qualifications.  A recent success, which Axia is delighted to announce, is the achievement  of the Local Enterprise Apprenticeship Recognition Award  by Tom Minshall, who is an employee based at Siak Transfers in Stoke on Trent.

The Apprenticeship Recognition Awards showcase and celebrate the achievements of Apprentices who have exceeded expectations, shown an enthusiastic approach to learning, demonstrated initiative, enterprise, innovation and creativity and made a measurable impact within their jobs.

Thomas has successfully completed his Intermediate Machine Printing Apprenticeship and he is now working towards achievement of an Advanced Apprenticeship in Digital Pre Press for Print.

Tom’s journey at SIAK Transfers

Tom joined SIAK Transfers in 2014, following an initial interview with Axia Solutions, and commenced in the machine printing department.  Since then has become a fully integrated affable member of the team, who consistently achieves excellent results.  Throughout his Apprenticeship, Tom has been visited regularly by his Assessor / Trainer from Axia Solutions, Trevor Machin, who himself has over twenty years of experience of working in the print industry.  Both Trevor and Darren Routledge, Works Manager at Siak Transfers, recognised from the outset that Tom had an excellent work ethic and was very proactive and quality conscious, always ensuring all customers’ requirements were met and were of a very high standard.   Darren said “Tom applies himself beyond the execution of his normal duties, he uses his initiative to organise his own work load and without hesitation will volunteer to help team members when working to tight deadlines.”

Last year, an excellent opportunity arose for Tom when a key member of staff at Siak Transfers resigned from the studio, leaving the company short staffed at an extremely busy time.  Tom stepped forward and informed his manager that he had a good basic knowledge of how to use an Apple Mac computer and the necessary design packages that were required for the graphic reproduction.  With minimal training, Tom took on the role and has gone from strength to strength, resulting in a considerable saving to the Company with no additional salary or recruitment costs to pay.

Fulfilling recruitment requirements

Siak employs an expert team of ceramicists, screen printers and studio operatives and due to the Tom’s success the company has recruited an additional Apprentice, Sam Whitmore, who is now working towards achievement of his Intermediate Apprenticeship in machine printing. The company believe that the Apprentices can help them to remain the UK’s leading manufacturer of high quality screen printed Ceramic and Glass decals, serving the world famous local ceramics market and known throughout the world for its expert knowledge in screen printing techniques for ceramic and glass applications.

Darren Routledge stated “Tom has continued to strive in this job role and has gone from strength to strength, without Tom the company would have been unable to meet the customers’ orders and tight deadlines.  I believe that our working relationship with Axia Solutions is outstanding and as the relationship develops I foresee the Apprenticeship programme growing and expanding.
To find out more about Axia Solutions visit their website at

Pictured: Trevor Machin (Axia Solutions Assessor / Trainer), Thomas Minshall (Siak Transfers) and Darren Routledge (Works Manager at Siak Transfers)