Careers advice leads to greater satisfaction

30th May 2008 at 01:00
Your article "Employers duck skills costs"' (FE Focus, May 16) understandably focused on the survey of employers' views, as opposed to those of Train to Gain learners

Your article "Employers duck skills costs"' (FE Focus, May 16) understandably focused on the survey of employers' views, as opposed to those of Train to Gain learners.

Perhaps learners' views deserve more attention - not least as the survey's findings cast some interesting sidelights on other aspects of government policy, such as the development of fit-for-purpose careers information, advice and guidance (IAG).

You note that "nearly three-quarters" of learners reported that the training helped them do their job better, but you did not say that this was less than the 86 per cent who had actually expected it to. Therefore one assumes there were 13 per cent of learners whose expectations were not met in this regard. It also seems this expectation gap was actually less marked in terms of getting the skills to do a future job.

Levels of satisfaction for comparable provision were already high. My expectation, based on previous surveys, would be at least a 90 per cent rate in terms of satisfaction and perceived impact.

Earlier surveys also point to a reason why satisfaction and impact is high: the provision of impartial IAG to individuals.

As the Train to Gain report says: "Where learners have expressed dissatisfaction this is often linked to a lack of IAG at the outset." Where IAG is provided, it appears more developed for fully funded learners; and while level 3 (A-level equivalent) students in particular felt one-to-ones would be most beneficial, group sessions were common.

Over two-thirds of participants who had completed their course wanted to go into further learning. This is good news, but the survey also says that those who received IAG regarding further progression were even more positive about progression.

So, if Train to Gain is to justify its level of public subsidy and encourage a learning culture in the workplace and among those who have benefited least from statutory education, it would be sensible to note these early findings. One thing is clear, the role of impartial, individual IAG is essential for the success of Train to Gain and the progression of the significant numbers who are benefiting from this huge investment.

Mark Ravenhall, Director for employment and work Centre for Enterprise, Leicester.

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