Monitoring apprentices is critical to high completion and success rates.

Having committed a further £222 million to vocational training earlier in the year, apprenticeship schemes are undoubtedly high on the government’s agenda. Often beset by high dropout rates, however, education providers need to display that they are a valid ongoing investment. Effectively tracking learners can have a direct impact on apprenticeship success rates while concurrently demonstrating that the funding is well spent.

As reported by FE Week (click here), between April 2010 and March 2011, the government targeted that 203,200 19 year olds and above would start an apprenticeship scheme. Figures released in June, however, revealed that the actual figure was 257,000 – an astonishing 54,000 more than expected.

Figures like these demonstrate the potential power of apprenticeships but, for them to work successfully, the alarming dropout rate of around 25 per cent needs to be rectified to ensure success rates become consistently high.

Further education colleges can help to address this issue by effectively tracking every learner’s progression and attendance. Historically, this has been a cumbersome and highly inaccurate process that had very little effect on success rates, however, there are effective ways to manage this.

By having instantaneous access to up-to-date records on all students, colleges have the data they need to not only increase the success of their learners but also the success of the scheme itself. As a result, if either aren’t delivering to their full potential, colleges would be able to use an accurate flow of information that will directly lead to the point of breakdown, allowing it to be rectified before any serious or long-term damage is caused.

Increasing and maintaining motivation is another important factor that can be heavily influenced by the implementation of online management software. Institutions have reported that their apprentices displayed an increased willingness to learn and determination to improve themselves when they could view their own progress – a simple yet highly effective means of lowering dropout rates while increasing individual and overall success.

Apprentices displayed an increased willingness to learn and determination to improve themselves when they could view their own progress”

Arming colleges with the tools they need to manage apprentices through effective learner-centric tracking of progression against qualifications, frameworks and milestones, as well as managing funding, recruitment and statistical reporting from a single platform, provides them with the ability to have much greater control of the destiny of the scheme and those taking part.

Apprenticeship schemes without a doubt have the power to reduce unemployment rates and address the UK’s skills shortage problem but, in order to do this successfully and recurrently, they need to show that they are worth the ongoing investment, which currently sits at £1.4 billion every year. Monitoring students has a key part to play in demonstrating and influencing this.

Paul Davis is Managing Director of Perspective, a provider of learner management products. Tweeting as @PDPerspective