Gemma Westlake investigates the role of mentor

Gemma Westlake investigates the role of mentor

Gemma Westlake investigates the role workplace mentor plays in an apprentice’s early career.

I hope the last few months have been good, both personally and professionally for you all. In my last instalment I discussed some of the impacts that we have seen as a result of Covid-19 with our apprentice progression, I also stated that next time around I would be discussing the role of the workplace mentor in supporting an apprentice through their journey. So let’s do just that.

Years ago being a workplace mentor meant showing your apprentice ‘the ropes’, providing support and feedback on practical jobs that had been completed and generally overseeing their progress in the workshop. Back then however, their learning progress was generally overseen by the college assessor and apprenticeship team who would conduct regular visits and checks to tasks carried out in the workshop. 2014 saw a government initiative to engage with employers and give them more say over the qualification process, the introduction of the new apprenticeship standards as quoted from The new standards were introduced as part of the Government’s major apprenticeship reforms. The standards represent a shift from assessing to learning and put employers in control.

The changes from the old frameworks to the new standards has had a real impact on the role of the mentor, putting much more emphasis on guiding someone through the learning side of the apprenticeship as it ties in with tasks that are completed in the workplace. One example of this change is the following: previously the workplace mentor might sign off a job card to confirm that the job has been completed to the correct standard, now they are also able to oversee their apprentices learning journey through the use of an online portfolio, it is now the mentor’s responsibility to help their apprentice to get the jobs written out signed off and uploaded to show progress, they are the person that is, in effect carrying out the assessment of the work completed by their apprentice which means it is much more within the garages responsibilities and capabilities to work with the training provider in deciding when they believe the apprentice is ready to complete their gateway and end point assessments. The new standards have also had an effect on the types of tasks that are completed in the Gateway assessments to ensure that they are appropriate to the skills needed from garages. It is however worth mentioning that support should be provided by the assessor/mentor with the training provider (or college) if as a mentor you are unsure of the process.

If you are reading this and thinking of taking on an apprentice then please do remember that if you will be going through a local training provider such as colleges then you should be given a contact at the college who will be responsible for assisting you in overseeing your apprentice’s progress along with developing their learning/training needs, the changes we have identified were put in place to give garages more say over the learning taking place and give them a more detailed over view of what needs to be completed within the apprenticeship. I hope you have found this information useful, please do join me next time when I will be highlighting how and why it may be useful to your business to engage with local colleges!

Gemma is a lecturer at Basingstoke College of Technology. To find out what goes on there, click here.

Related posts