Buddy schemes boost chances for the young

you want young trainees to succeed, provide a mentor. That is one of the key
messages in a new report from the Adult Learning Inspectorate (ALI). Successful
Learning at Work draws on inspections of work-based training carried out by the
ALI since April 2001 to analyse what makes for good training. It examines seven
aspects of training: planning, key skills, mentoring and support, review and
target-setting, on-the-job training, recording evidence, progression and
employability, and providing examples of good practice in each.

report highlights the benefit of assigning a ‘buddy’ or mentor to young
trainees. Some companies that train a number of Modern Apprentices pair up new
recruits with older apprentices. In others, a skilled worker is used as a
mentor or role model.

is something so simple that anyone can do it, but it’s not as widespread as it
should be,” said the report’s author, Philip Hatton.

group James Beattie plc, a DfES-designated Beacon training provider which was
awarded top grades by ALI inspectors, assigns a senior sales member in each
department as mentor to trainees. When the trainee moves department every three
months, the mentor changes too.  

manager Rosalind Wood, said: “Mentoring improves standards and creates more
effective on-the-job training by giving a high level of support. Mentors get
the satisfaction of training people and seeing them get on in the company.
Sometimes the mentors progress themselves.”

to plan training is the greatest area of weakness, said Hatton. “Some employers
pass the buck. Trainees may get sent to a provider on day release, but 80 per
cent of their time is spent in the workplace. If it is not utilised, it’s a
real waste of what they’re doing with the training provider.”

together is the key area where improvements can bring results. When employers
and training providers work closely together to plan, the training achievement
and retention rates are high. “It is no coincidence,” Hatton added. “Where
you’ve got good relationships and contact between employer and training
provider, there is much less chance that trainees will disappear.”

same principles apply when training is conducted in-house. Wood said: “Training
is only a small part of what we do – our main business is running a department
store – but we carefully plan what training has to be done, and everyone from
the personnel director down is involved.

have one-to-one training in the departments, which makes our training more
structured and measurable, and enables us to meet targets,” Wood added.
“Department managers, who are all qualified assessors, attend regular reviews
so that we can check progress and adjust the learner’s programme if need be.”

can also boost their training success by improving the review and
target-setting process, Hatton said.

need to set targets in small steps and be very specific about what a trainee
needs to do to achieve part of an NVQ unit. It makes it easy to review progress
and see where there are problems. Target setting is very simple, but very few
people are doing it,” he said.

providers use a ‘percentage achieved’ mark of the NVQ as an overall target to
motivate learners and work-based assessors. For example, if 50 elements made up
the units of an NVQ, each element would be worth 2 per cent. Completing four
elements in a month could be expressed as 8 per cent of the NVQ.

an approach motivates learners – especially when they are working on several
units concurrently. At one engineering company, staff and learners calculate
the percentage of the NVQ and key skill requirements they have completed at
each review. These proportions are represented on a bar chart, which is
regularly updated, and the employer has seen significant progress in unit

things that don’t cost a lot of money can have a big impact on the quality of
training,” Hatton concluded. “Hopefully, that is what people will pick up on
when they see the report.”

full report is available for viewing on the ALI website www.ali.gov.uk

Elaine Essery

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