With rising UK unemployment and confidence in the British marketplace remaining low, one Fife-based company is defying the analysts by thriving at a time when many businesses are struggling.
The Scottish Quality Management Centre (SQMC) is a unique British training organisation and, over 25 years, has progressed from being a think-tank of Stirling University’s Management Science faculty to become one of Europe’s leading providers of Quality Management Systems qualifications, globally accredited by the International Register of Certificated Auditors (IRCA).
SQMC has increased its turnover by 139% since 2007 with a diverse client base of SMEs and large multinationals from a broad range of industrial and service sectors. This year alone SQMC’s Chartered Professional Consultancy division has already won seven new contracts to oversee the implementation and improvement of various management systems.
As more organisations and individuals look towards re-skilling, enhancing current skills and continuing professional development, SQMC offer the flexibility to provide this training with a distinctive bespoke approach that can fit most requirements. Speaking on the company’s success despite the tough economic climate, SQMC Director of Operations Kenny Hannah said: “We've been fortunate enough to maintain steady year on year growth since the UK first entered into recession in 2008. Last year, 2012, was a record-breaking year for us in terms of turnover.
“We've been able to attract a lot of new business, with 3M in Bracknell being the latest in a long line of multinationals to select SQMC to train its staff. Meanwhile, a large proportion of our workload is assisting private individuals, from students taking advantage of our subsidised rates to supplement their university degrees, to sole traders and consultants seeking to enrich their CVs and unlock gateways to new contracts through enhanced qualifications.
“SQMC continues to adapt to our industry and our training syllabus has grown and evolved over the years too. Among SQMC’s innovations is the combined Internal Health, Safety & Environmental Auditor programme which effectively allows our customers to take in two courses in the timeframe of one – with a reduced financial outlay.”
He added: “We also developed value-added 'hybrid' or 'bolt-on' versions of our internationally-accredited ISO 9001 Internal Auditor programme giving delegates the option to learn of the tie-ins of Quality Systems to other closely-related systems, such as Occupational Health & Safety, Food Safety, and Environmental. We are also the providers of the UK's only IRCA-certified AS 9100 Internal Auditor course for suppliers to the Aerospace & Defence industries, which is a registered 'variant' of IRCA's 2180 specification.”
Some of SQMC’s longstanding clients include Wolfson Microelectronics, Diageo, Caterpillar, FMC Technologies and Raytheon Systems. In the case of Caterpillar, the company’s senior global quality executive was so impressed with SQMC’s knowledge and experience following an ISO 9001 Lead Auditor course delivered in Dunfermline, Fife, that he has been sending his colleagues from worldwide locations to receive development training directly from SQMC ever since.
SQMC provides direct training to clients but also provides training courses via educational institutions through close partnerships with Technical Colleges. This type of format suits many long term clients including several based in and around Prestwick Airport, who continue to send their staff to SQMC for auditor training directly and via Kilmarnock College’s engineering department.
SQMC’s recent growth stems from its advocacy of constant innovation and adaptation. In 1992, SQMC became the first organisation in Scotland approved by the Institute of Quality Assurance (now Chartered Quality Institute) to provide IRCA-certified Lead Auditor training. Following shortly after, SQMC's Director of Programmes, Ian Hannah, drafted the original "180" Internal Quality Auditor programme on IRCA's behalf.