How to support your apprentice

How to support your apprentice

In 2022’s first instalment of Apprentice Answers, Gemma Westlake reflects on how employers can get more actively involved with an apprentice’s training provider.

Happy New Year! I really hope you have all had a fantastic festive time. Starting a new year is always a good time to reflect and plan your next steps moving forward. With this in mind, now seems like an appropriate time to discuss the valuable link between an employer, their apprentice and the training provider.

In past articles I have covered many points such as the apprentice framework, why you may consider employing an apprentice, how you can then support the person you’ve given this opportunity to and much more. Hopefully by now you have been convinced to take on at least one (maybe more) apprentice on board. For those who have, let’s look at how your connection with your apprentice’s training provider can assist you, your business and your apprentice.

On a personal level, I have witnessed the impact that the Covid years have had on young people and it is profound. I have found that many of our learners have less confidence and less experience – not only of their chosen profession but of life in general. This includes our apprentices. With a lack of confidence comes self-doubt and if not supported efficiently, this has the potential to evolve into something much more serious. Unfortunately, I have seen in the not-too-distant past examples of a young person, unhappy at work and lacking general confidence in their abilities, the support has unfortunately not been there in the workplace. Also, with Covid in full play, meetings with their college assessor/mentor in person were also much less frequent. When small things like this begin to build it can have a snowball effect. Small problems can become big problems, and I have also seen circumstances where employer, employee and college all disagree with where the fault lies.

So, what can we do to help, and hopefully avoid, a situation like this? Communication is absolutely key here! If you have an apprentice then please ask them for their point of view; how is college going for them? Do they feel supported in the workplace? Do they know where their progress is currently within their apprenticeship and how to get to the next stage?

If they seem unsure, are feeling negative or you would just like to know more, then I would highly recommend getting in contact with their mentor at the training provider/college. Talk to them about how your apprentice is progressing, ask what you can do to help and offer suggestions if you have any. Under the new apprenticeship framework it is the responsibility of the workplace mentor to sign off certain work-based learning evidence and the college mentor is there to help you. The idea behind the new framework was that employers met with the awarding bodies, and had a lot more input into the apprenticeships.

On that note, any good college would be keen to improve employer links, it can only benefit all sides and with all the correct ingredients (good communication, support and positive working relationships) a highly effective recipe for learning and progressing will be created.

In conclusion, the moral of the story here is to get involved, stay in the know and keep up to date with not only understanding how the apprenticeship is progressing but also how your apprentice is feeling, happy people generally work well. Would you like more in-depth information on the role of a workplace mentor and how you can support the apprenticeship by becoming one? Until next time…

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

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