How can ITPs monitor and improve learner engagement?

ITPs can and must better understand their learners’ ambitions and benchmark engagement across employers to drastically improve provision, explains Brad Tombling

ITPs can and must better understand their learners’ ambitions and benchmark engagement across employers to drastically improve provision, explains Brad Tombling

14 Mar 2023, 5:00

Independent Training Providers (ITPs) are under pressure to ensure that the apprenticeships they provide are deemed to be of high quality, minimising withdrawal rates and adhering to the Accountability Framework’s achievement rate targets.

However, research by The St Martin’s Group has demonstrated that not all of the reasons why a learner withdraws are within the ITPs control. Indeed, a lack of support from employers was the most common reason for non-completions (37 per cent).     

But how can an ITP manage the aspects that are in their control to increase engagement and deliver the best outcome for learners?   

Blended learning

Blended learning is here to stay and can provide the agility an ITP needs to maintain engagement levels. Virtual classrooms remain predominant, with 97 per cent of organisations now using them as part of their training strategies.   

Following the pandemic rush to online delivery, ITPs have now had time to test and assess which components of online learning work best, enabling them to establish a high-quality and effective delivery model with an improved experience for learners.  

When an ITP understands the multiple touchpoints they have with learners, they can maximise engagement in every moment. The most successful learning programmes include a mix of resources, including:  

  • Pre-recorded multimedia like videos and podcasts that appeal to those who like or need to access and revisit learning materials on their own terms.
  • Live lessons delivered by experienced tutors are great for people who learn best by listening, interacting and asking questions.
  • Live learning workshops like interactive Q&As and breakout sessions, which are an opportunity to spot learners who are falling behind and take quick action. 
  • Written resources like handouts and guides that support and build on what’s been discussed in lessons and workshops. 
  • Quizzes in the form of SCORM content that reinforce the learning objective and instantly capture results.  

Many other changes are currently happening in the industry, such as faster delivery of learning  which could have a huge impact on engagement levels for apprentices. This involves providers recognising prior learning so that their course content becomes more relevant to apprentices and their learning needs, which could result in learners becoming fully competent sooner.

Easing enrolment and onboarding

Making sure that a learner feels supported and integrates well into their learning are core aspects of the onboarding process.  But trainers should also make sure that they’ve spent time discussing in depth the learner’s ambitions and that the learner understands what’s required of them during the apprenticeship programme.

One of the reasons learners can become disengaged is because the course didn’t live up to their expectations. Making sure that they’re on the right course that will help them reach their goals and that they’re not disillusioned about what it entails will give them the best chance for success. (Not to mention that this is among Ofsted’s key criteria.) 

Monitoring engagement

When tracking the progress of learners, it’s important to monitor engagement levels in real time as a key aspect of their overall performance. If a training manager and employer can see the engagement of every learner on their programme via live data dashboards they can identify learners who may be struggling, intervene and work together to put strategies in place to support them and  minimise withdrawals. 

As mentioned before, engagement is multi-faceted, but ITPs can measure aspects that are within their control such as how regularly learners communicate with their trainer, how speedily they have completed submissions, any positive feedback they’ve received from managers as well as performance metrics.

Working with employers

All parties – learner, employer and training provider – need to be on the same page to prevent non-completion. From enrolment to end-point assessment, employers need to support and understand learners, and be flexible to enable them to complete their on-the-job hours.   

As digital transformation and blended styles of learning continue to transform the apprentice’s journey, the ability to benchmark engagement levels across training providers will allow them to test and learn new ways of empowering that flexibility.

It’s a metric that will not only improve the individual learner’s experience and outcome but will also determine how providers successfully deliver apprenticeships in the future. 

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