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New research by the Learning and Skills Development Agency (LSDA) has shown an increase in apprenticeships being offered by employers and training organisations in a bid to develop a more professional approach to training.

The findings of the research, which was conducted on behalf of the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), shows how the best training providers have improved the retention of trainees. The findings also suggest that a gradual improvement in the quality offered has taken place. The research also covered problem areas such as trainers" lack of familiarity with the inspection regime, insufficient resources, as well as difficulties meeting the needs of individual trainees.

LSDA's research was based on findings initiated from inspection reports and a detailed analysis of statistics about recruitment and retention of trainees, which also included interviews with employers and training providers. The main objective was to discover if any changes in the quality of work based learning training has taken place over the past three years and the reasons for this change.

Achieving Improvements

"This research shows that improvements can be achieved if the right kind of support is offered and trainers are committed to doing things better. But moving from "satisfactory" to "excellent" is a big jump." said Andrew Thompson, Chief Executive of LSDA. He also commented on the sharing of good practice that needed to by analysed in order to make the precise factors more outstanding.

Stephen Gardner, Director of Work-Based Learning at the LSC, said: "The work based learning network has made important progress in quality improvement and this research illustrates how inspection has played a part. With the LSC's emphasis increasingly on contracting with providers who can demonstrate high levels of achievement, the report will be essential reading for most providers and employers."

The results will be published later this week in a report titled Improving The Grade and will update an existing report originally published in 2002, that identified substantial flaws in work based learning and set out an action plan for change. Improving The Grade in Work-Based Learning by Maria Hughes is part of a set of publications that have been investigating the state of work-based learning in England.

For more information, contact the Information Services, LSDA, Regent Arcade House, 19/25 Argyll Street, London W1F 7LS. Alternatively, telephone 020 72979123 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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