Following on from Jane Lowe's piece providing advice for apprentices, Dr Dorota Bourne gives her advice to employers supporting apprentices to mark National Apprenticeship Week 2022 (7-13 February).
Make sure to involve apprentices in any projects, activities, meetings and discussions which will help them understand the business and the work that is of strategic importance to the organisation. If they gain a better understanding of where the organisation is heading, what problems and obstacles you are experiencing, they will understand how they can contribute effectively to your business.
An apprentice’s time is precious. They have studies. They have work pressures. They are coping with the huge amount of change that this programme brings. Businesses and managers need to take their apprentices’ time really seriously and protect their allocated 20% off the job learning and study time. Without this, the acquisition of new knowledge and the apprenticeship is not possible.
Collaboration and communication
Provide effective channels of communication and collaboration for your apprentices. Make sure they are working on initiatives that will be supported by other people. This means that, even though there may only be one apprentice in your organisation, other employees will still benefit from their development. Create a support team and coalition around your apprentices to help them succeed, motivate them and enable the sharing of new knowledge with their colleagues.
If you have multiple apprentices in your organisation, it will often create better collaboration in the workplace. Think carefully about how you will select people for an apprenticeship programme. Ideally, select employees from different levels and different departments so you will encourage communication and collaboration across your organisation. This is an opportunity many businesses are currently missing out on.
Understand their potential
When you send someone on the apprenticeship programme, it is not just about developing talent. You are effectively getting a consultant, so reframe how you think about them.
Having an apprentice opens the door to a much bigger world of knowledge and expertise for your business to make the most of. When you send your employee onto an apprenticeship, it’s not just about their education, but the networks and connections they will make and how they interact with the opportunities afforded to them by their provider. They will bring the expertise from the people they meet into your business.
Apprentices can become an advocate for change and for lifelong learning in your organisation and create a culture of growth. Thinking about how you use this in your business and allowing them the freedom to create those cultural shifts will benefit your business enormously.
If you are a business looking to support your apprentices, further advice and guidance can be found in our Essential Apprenticeship Guides.
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