Although apprenticeships can be a daunting prospect to the hectic workshop, they are a worthwhile investment. In the first installment of a regular column, Gemma Westlake outlines the good, the bad, and the in-between when it comes to apprenticeships.
To briefly introduce myself, my name is Gemma and I am a qualified technician by trade. In the last 10 years, I have also worked as a college lecturer, an assessor and an Internal Quality Assurer. My career started while working as a van valeter back in 2001.
I somehow plucked up the courage to approach the owner of the garage and ask if they would train me, someone with no technical knowledge, as their first apprentice. Luckily for me they were up for a challenge, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Having an apprenticeship changed both my life and career path for good. Now, as a lecturer, I am able to see apprenticeships from differing viewpoints; the excitement of the apprentice, the sometimes daunting yet rewarding process for the employer, and, of course, the communication between the college and mentor.
A new life
An apprenticeship can mean the beginning of a new life. Learning valuable skills while working and training can open up all kinds of new and exciting opportunities in the coming years, and to be part of that journey for someone is something very special indeed.
For employers, having an apprentice has many upsides; you have an energetic employee who is keen to learn the ways of the workplace, and you are able to invest in the future of an individual who can in turn become a valuable and profitable member of the team.
But, what does the employer need to know? There will be a few potential employers out there worrying about what they would need to do to enable someone to complete an apprenticeship with them, and may be asking questions such as ‘how much extra work will this involve?’ and ‘how long will the apprenticeship last?’.
There is good news and bad news here. It used to be that apprentices who followed the old standards were delegated an assessor from their training provider, and this assessor would make regular visits to the garage and observe the learner as part of the qualification.
However, in discussions between Government and employers, employers stated that they would like more control over the outcome of their apprentice, as the old framework meant that the assessor largely decided the outcome of the apprenticeship. In response to this, new standards were implemented, which enabled garages to have much more control over the learner’s development. What this meant for the assessor was a change of role – the assessor is now a mentor.
When an employer takes on an apprentice, they are now given access to a mentor, whose role is to support and assist the garage in ensuring that their apprentice is regularly uploading and completing evidence of development on their online system. The employer now has the control and responsibility of grading the work completed by their apprentice.
A busy employer will probably read this and question the extra workload, and it’s true that an apprentice does mean extra commitment. However, it’s important to remember that the mentor provided is there to help. If a garage does decide to take on an apprentice, there is help available, from guidance and funding to websites to help find an apprentice.