Nearly 400 young learners with mentors were studied in a project which ran from 1992‐94 at Leeds Metropolitan University. Shows that many learners find effective substitutes for conventional mentors, and, while needing support for their workplace learning, obtain this from a variety of helpers other than a conventionally‐defined mentor. Managers are not ideal mentors. Relevant expert knowledge on the part of a mentor is important, as is formality in conducting learner‐mentor relationships. Training for mentors is also confirmed as important. Time pressures can prevent would‐be mentors from offering their services. Stability of employment for both parties for the duration of the relationship is important.
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