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How to Best Support Your Apprentice

CMS Vocational Training Hadyn Luke posted this on Wednesday 2nd of October 2019 Hadyn Luke 02/10/2019

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How to Best Support Your Apprentice

So you’ve taken a positive step by bringing a new apprentice into your business or encouraging an existing employee to follow an apprenticeship, but how do you support them through the learning process?

Whether you are employing an apprentice in accountancy, HR, IT, business administration, personal training or any other sector, the more support you offer, the more likely the apprenticeship will prove a success, both for the apprentice and the employer.

Here are a few things you might like to consider.

Is your apprentice a new or existing employee?

If you’re supporting an existing employee who wants to upskill and progress their career, one of the benefits is that they will already be familiar with your business and the way it runs.

However, it’s important to give them additional support as they follow the apprenticeship, as they are likely to be developing skills that are new to them, taking on more responsibility and working in different areas of the business from those they are familiar with. They might feel nervous about putting themselves forward and about the specific challenges of the apprenticeship, such as assessments and remote learning.

If your apprentice is new to your company, they may need some time to settle in, get to know the other staff members and get used to the working environment. You should also ensure that those employees responsible for training the apprentice are aware of their role, and have the time, knowledge and experience to help the apprentice on their journey.

What experience does your apprentice have?

Some apprentices come straight from school or college with varying levels of existing qualifications and work experience. They may already have experience of the workplace, for example from a Saturday job, or they may be completely new to this kind of environment, which can mean a period of adjustment as they learn what’s expected of them.

This can include such things as:

  • Timekeeping
  • Teamwork
  • Communication skills
  • Compromise
  • Work/life/study balance

Other candidates may have already held down a job in a different or related sector. This gives them the benefit of being familiar with the world of work. However, if they are moving to a new sector – for example from a non-customer-facing office role to working on the reception in a doctors’ surgery or gym – they will require time and training to adjust to the change.

What are their ‘soft skills’?

Soft skills include interpersonal skills, communication, problem solving, dependability and motivation (see our blog on: Personal Development Plans – the benefits for you and your organisation).

Each apprentice will arrive with different levels of soft skills, but can learn how to develop these over time.

Another key issue is confidence. While one apprentice may be a naturally confident person, another may need time to settle in and get to know people. If an apprentice feels that they can ask for help and support as and when they need it, they are more likely to grow in confidence.

Taking the time to get to know your apprentice will help you understand their personality, which in turn will help you support them when it comes to working out how they learn, communicate and handle criticism.

Apprenticeships – what to consider

An apprenticeship has a particular structure to it and it’s important that you, as the employer, understand what this is and how it relates to both your business and the individual apprentice you are taking on.

An apprentice should not be left to flounder, but will require week-to-week management. This will include discussions around:

  • Their role at the company and how they are coping with the training
  • Their relationship with their colleagues and practicalities of the working environment
  • What their agreed targets are and whether they are meeting them
  • Off the Job learning (see our blog on: What is 20% Off-the-Job Learning Time?)
  • When tutor visits take place and what to expect
  • What work needs submitting

Conclusion

An apprenticeship should be tailored to the needs of the apprentice as well as the requirements of the employer. To ensure that the apprenticeship runs smoothly and benefits all parties involved, the apprentice should be supported from start to finish with regular feedback and recommendations.