1. Line Manager Vs Mentor
Firstly, apprentices should be managed by experienced line managers. It is often easy for a line manager to slip into ‘mentor mode’ however; this can have a damaging impact for both parties, with the line manager burning out and the apprentice becoming easily confused as to who he / she should turn to in times of need. Find a suitable mentor, not the line manager, within your organisation for your apprentice and provide clarity from the beginning the roles of each.
2. Build A Cohort
You can give an apprentice all the support and guidance in the world however you cannot overlook the value of peer support. Where possible, buddy your apprentice up with someone who is going through the same experience as they are and encourage skills sharing. This will help boost retention for your organisation whilst allowing them to build a professional network for the future.
3. Take An Interest In The Individual
Apprentices like to feel valued within an organisation so take the time to understand why they’re doing an apprenticeship, what their intentions are post-graduation and how you can help them get there.
4. Set Weekly/Fortnightly Goals
It is important to have face-to-face 1:1 contact with your apprentice on a weekly basis. This is a great opportunity to set expectations, understand where their challenges / limitations lie and how you can best develop their workplace learning.
5. Give Them Ownership
An apprenticeship should be a real role with real accountability, adding real value to your organisation. Find a suitable project for them to own throughout the duration of their apprenticeship, give them the necessary tools needed to make a success of it and watch them flourish in their role whilst boosting productivity.
How many apprentices should you have? Well Kano found that there are benefits from having at least two. Its Mathew Keegan said: “My advice for employers is that if you are thinking of taking on one apprentice, consider taking two. At Kano, our apprentices are by far the youngest team members, and I was worried it would make it difficult for them to acclimatise. Training two people doesn’t involve any extra work for me, but it allowed the apprentices to have form a close bond with someone of their own age that they can relate to as they transition from school to the workplace.”