Top Ten Tips for Making the Most of Apprenticeships
For most young people, gaining a degree used to be the key to achieving the coveted first step on the career ladder but with the cost of university fees souring, young people looking for ways into work are relying more than ever before on apprenticeships.
Learning a trade on the job is becoming more attractive to ambitious people of all ages starting a new career, particularly now there is more support from the Government for apprentices and employers alike.
If you are recruiting for an apprentice or have a role in mind, here are our Top Ten Tips for making the most out of apprenticeships:
1. Get help in finding your apprentice
Apprenticeships are becoming more widely recognised as an alternative to university and are therefore more popular than ever before. You can seek help finding the best apprentices by advertising your vacancy via the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS). Schools, colleges and careers services encourage people to utilise the NAS, so you’re more likely to get a positive response than simply adding the vacancy to your website or online job board.
2. Think about the skills you are looking for
An apprentice is someone who you can train and nurture to develop their skills for a specific role with the aim of retaining them within your firm once they’ve graduated from their apprenticeship. It’s not about looking for a fully qualified employee who can hit the ground running – they will need mentoring. Consider what personal attributes you are looking for in your apprentice – such as their ambition and work ethic, an inquisitive nature and good communication skills. Think about what kind of person you’re looking for and how they may be a good fit for your firm.
3. Be welcoming and approachable
It can be daunting starting any new job, especially for young apprentices who may have little experience of the world of work. The simplest of things will help them feel more at home and therefore able to ask for help and advice. Be welcoming – introduce them to everyone, invite them to an induction, show them around the workplace, be clear about how you can be contacted, invite them out for lunch and include them in your company newsletters – show them you are proud to have an apprentice on board.
4. Buddy them with a mentor
Mentoring new employees can be really rewarding, especially apprentices of all ages who are at the start of their new career. Starting any new job can be daunting, so they will definitely benefit from having a friendly, knowledgeable colleague at their side to help them settle in. A good mentor or career coach will help to nurture your new apprentice and help them achieve their goals.
5. Set clear objectives
Just like any new member of staff, you need to set clear objectives to help them achieve their goals and professional development but also to ensure they benefit your business in the way you want them to. The objectives you set need to be ambitious but achievable. You need review their objectives as part of your regular catch-ups and their more formal PDR (performance and development review) to ensure they are happy and are progressing at the right pace for them.
6. Monitor their progress
Tracking the progress of your apprentice will help you and them stay motivated and enthusiastic about the role. You will be able to look back at the journey you started together and (hopefully) feel proud of how far you have come. This will also help you and your apprentice to remain focused and motivated.
7. Encourage them to get involved
Don’t forget your apprentice is part of your team. Involving them in any team events or meetings is a must if you want them to feel involved and for them to feel like there’s a future within your business once their apprenticeship is over. But you should also go one step further and involve them in any engagement activity, team building sessions, photo calls or high profile activity within your firm. This will show that they are a valued member of your team and their opinions and ideas really do matter.
8. Set a good example
Your apprentice will be learning the practical tricks of your trade from your existing employees, so it’s essential that they set the best example possible to avoid them picking up on any bad habits. The rest of your workforce need to be aware of what standards you expect as much as your new apprentice. Lead how you would want to be led and remember that you get it right, you could be investing in a long-term employee who will help your business grow.
9. Play the long game
Businesses often make the mistake of thinking about apprenticeships as a short-term commitment when they could potentially be much more than that. If you get it right and their skills and values are a good fit, then your apprentice could be with you for many years to come. The best way to do this is to regularly review their objectives and performance to see what impact they are making and discuss with them whether they’d be interested in a longer-term job offer.
10. Make sure you learn from the experience
Taking on an apprenticeship will be a learning curve for you and your business too. You need to take time out to reflect on what you have learnt from the process and what you might do differently in future. Think about what the apprentice taught you about the business – they are a fresh pair of eyes and they may help you uncover all sorts of things that could be done better but which you can be proud of too.
Will you be welcoming an apprentice into your team?
cHRysos HR Solutions is a Doncaster based HR training and consultancy company providing CIPD and CMI accredited qualifications nationwide, as well as HR Consultancy to SMEs. For more information about how cHRysos HR can help you return to study and achieve further qualifications email firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 (0)1302 802128.
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