Trainee pitfalls

Tes Editorial

Stephen Grix was reported last week as saying at the Association of Colleges' annual conference that most training at work delivered by colleges is unsatisfactory (TES, November 30).

Colleges are committed to the development of the work-based training route and in many cases provide or manage excellent learning and assessment opportunities in the workplace. However, there are many factors which cause trainees to leave their course early.

The business imperative only too often takes precedence over the day-release trainees' needs and they find themselves required to be at the workplace on the college day, thus missing their chance to complete their portfolios for their key skills qualification.

Failure to achieve this leads to failure to achieve the Modern Apprenticeship framework, although the student may have gained the relevant national vocational qualifications. Trainees have been required (although this is changing) to take tests to gain key skills qualifications at prescribed levels that may not be appropriate.

A trainee may also be poached by a company which then claims credit for the successful completion of their training. In other cases, the business where the trainee is placed closes down.

For full-time students, high-quality placements are notoriously difficult to find. And retention is hard when the young person sees this as an unpaid job in a firm which may just treat them as cheap labour.

The training record of this country is not a good one and this is undoubtedly reflected in the quality of work-based training in general. It is poorly funded and there are inadequate incentives for business and industry to give trainees the opportunities they need to gain their qualifications.

Colleges are only too aware of the deficiencies of a system which relies so heavily on collaboration and genuine commitment by the country's industrial and commercial sectors. They are making every effort to give the trainees in their care the opportunities they deserve.

Rosemary Clark

Quality manager

Association of Colleges

103 New Oxford Street

London, WC1A

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