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Trainees get rare feedback chance

MODERN apprentices have been asked what they think of their training in what is believed to be the first survey of its kind.

The online survey of engineering apprentices was carried out by SEMTA - the engineering, science and manufacturing national training organisation.

It was the brainchild of John Berkeley, SEMTA's senior research fellow at Warwick university, who is now compiling a report on the responses.

A special feedback website has attracted opinions from 1,300 apprentices employed by companies including Rolls-Royce, BAe Systems and the Royal Air Force.

Mr Berkeley says there is potential for such surveys to become standard practice in all industries, as the Government places increasing emphasis on feedback from students and trainees.

He said: "We know next to nothing about what apprentices think about their experience and to what extent they are inclined to go on to other qualifications, including higher education.

"What we have seen in recent years is an increased recognition of what the learner has to say, which has been lacking before, particularly in work-based learning."

There are around 25,000 engineering MAs in the UK and, Mr Berkeley argues, their views need to be taken into account, while they are still on the programme, if training is to meet their needs better.

The survey is being watched keenly by the Department for Education and Skills, which is increasingly concerned at the numbers dropping out of MAs.

It is known some leave simply because they have found a better-paid job or even been promoted by their employer and taken off the programme.

The study questioned apprentices in their first year to see how they ended up on the programme and assess the quality of careers advice which led to them signing up. It also looked at those further into the programme to get what Mr Berkeley described as a "horse's mouth" opinion about the quality of the training.

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