Starting an apprenticeship can be nerve wracking, whether you’re fresh out of school or have made a mid-career change. During this transition period, an apprentice will have a lot to learn, so they’ll need support and guidance to help them settle in and flourish in their new role – which is why having a mentor is essential.
As a mentor or manager, you will be an apprentice’s first port of call for any questions they have about their job. You’ll also need to delegate tasks, share your own knowledge, and monitor their performance to make sure their goals are being achieved. If that sounds like a lot of responsibility, that’s because it is!
But fear not – in this week’s blog, we’ll go over some ways you can improve your mentoring skills to help your apprentice build their confidence and develop into a valuable member of your team.
Welcoming your apprentice: onboarding and introductions
The interviews have been passed, the paperwork has been completed, and it’s now your apprentice’s first day with your business. Having a strong onboarding plan is essential for making sure everything goes smoothly, and will help your apprentice adjust to their new role.
Before their first day at work, try to make contact with your apprentice to introduce yourself, and express your enthusiasm for them joining your team. A short email or text message can help alleviate those first-day nerves, and help your professional relationship to start off on the right foot.
If your team is back in the workplace, we recommend giving your apprentice a tour of the facilities and setting up introductions to other colleagues. If you’re working remotely, a video conference is also a great way to put names to faces, and help your apprentice to feel like a part of the team from day one.
An important thing to remember is that this could be your apprentice’s first ever job, so you should help them to feel as comfortable as possible. Be prepared to answer any questions they might have, and encourage them to reach out to you whenever they need help with their job.
An effective onboarding plan can have several long-term positive effects, such as increased productivity and better job satisfaction for your new apprentice, so the first few days of your apprentice’s employment are an important part of this journey.
Off-the-job training, explained
At least 20% of an apprentice’s normal working hours must include off-the-job training. The government has published some useful advice for working out what this includes, which you can read here. As an employer, it’s important to check whether you are filling this commitment by asking these questions about the training:
- Is it directly relevant to the apprenticeship standard or framework?
- Is it teaching new knowledge, skills and behaviours?
- Is the learning taking place within the apprentice’s normal working hours (paid hours excluding overtime)?
- If it’s English or maths, is it above level 2?
If the answer is ‘yes’ to all of these, then this counts as off-the-job training. As a mentor or manager, it’s important to remember that progress reviews and on-programme assessments do not count towards this.
The majority of off-the-job training is completed through technical learning modules, but the remaining training should be led by you as the employer. This might include allowing apprentices to book out time for apprenticeship work each week, having them part in shadowing opportunities with other members of the team, or completing additional self-study courses that are relevant to their apprenticeship programme.
At Easy Apprenticeships, we’ll help arrange off-the-job training to ensure that your apprenticeships meet the legal requirements, and provide your apprentices with a complete learning experience.
Checking in: performance management and personal development
It’s important to keep track of your apprentice’s performance and what they’re achieving in their role. This will help you monitor their workload and contributions, but it’s also a good opportunity to find out if they need any additional support with their job or their learning. Giving your apprentice reasonable objectives to achieve, and giving appraisals for good performance, will help encourage both their professional and personal development.
Whether it’s through 1-to-1 meetings or by attending review calls, you will be able to follow your apprentice’s progress and raise any concerns or questions you might have with them. You can also use these meetings as an opportunity to set longer-term goals. For example, if they have joined your company on a level 2 or 3 apprenticeship, you can make them aware of any higher level apprenticeship programmes on offer.
Get started with Easy Apprenticeships today
We hope this article has been a useful guide to help you understand how to manage and mentor an apprentice. Recruiting an apprentice is a rewarding and exciting process, but if you still need some convincing about the advantages of offering apprenticeships, check out our article with our top 5 reasons why your company should hire an apprentice here!
Looking for help with the apprenticeship recruitment process? At Easy Apprenticeships, we’re there every step of the way, with a fully managed recruitment service and a dedicated team of advisors to support you. Find out more about our process on our website here, or call us today on 0203 982 7600 for a free consultation!