Learners are entitled to support both for their learning and for themselves. Support and guidance for learners themselves can come from employers, providers and other agencies. Employers and providers should have a policy or strategy for guidance and support, backed up by a set of procedures. There is a direct relationship between the quality of support given to learners and retention. Where barriers are identified and action is taken quickly, learners are more likely to stay. Over forty percent of learners who leave work-based learning programmes early cite personal and work-related problems as the main reasons for leaving. Clearly, providing more effective support would help to reduce the number of early leavers.
Some employers and providers have already made the link and started to design guidance and support strategies specifically aimed at improving retention. There are many reasons why learners don’t get on well with their learning and don’t achieve their goals. It’s important to understand what the barriers are in each individual case. Generally speaking, they fall into two main categories:
· progress with learning – e.g. planning learning, keeping up with the standards expected, balancing the demands of learning and work
· Personal difficulties – e.g. financial, accommodation, relationships, care responsibilities, health.
Therefore supporting learners effectively entails being aware of their background, circumstances and personal problems. Building good relationships is at the heart of it. The better staffs get to know their learners, the more likely they are to provide the support learners need, when they need it. An experienced member of staff might be able to anticipate problems before a learner even realises they exist.