#NAW22: What makes a good apprentice?
To celebrate National Apprenticeship Week 2022 (7-13 February), Henley's Apprenticeship Manager Jane Lowe offers candidates her top tips for getting the most out of their programme.
Anyone can use the apprenticeship route to gain a higher qualification, whether they have been recruited into an apprenticeship job role or they are an existing member of staff.
Higher and degree apprenticeships have entry requirements similar to other modes of degree study but will also take other aspects into consideration, such as prior experience, qualifications, maths and English level, and evidence that you are willing to commit to the programme.
Balancing studying for a degree and doing your day-to-day job means that pursuing an apprenticeship is certainly not the easier option, as you will be expected to do your daily job role whilst learning, and completing assignments and projects.
Have willingness to learn
An apprenticeship at a higher and degree level is not just a practical route to gain an academic qualification. You will need to make sure you have a good understanding of the programme, and what the plan is for your study. You will need to combine practice with theory, and evidence these principles in an assignment or project. This will mean learning new skills, self-directed learning, reflecting on your practice, and reviewing your progress with your managers, mentors, academic staff and tutors. An apprenticeship is an evaluative process, and so you will be expected to keep regular records of the off-the-job element of your training and be part of the ongoing monitoring and review of your progression.
You need to be committed to the whole journey, as you will not achieve your apprenticeship until you have completed your End Point Assessment (EPA).
Make sure you take up any new opportunities offered to you and give your best effort to benefit from the rich and high-quality experience you are being provided with.
Have interpersonal skills and be able to work as a team
Working at higher and degree level, you will be expected to find your own opportunities to develop your knowledge skills and behaviours aligned with the apprenticeship standard you are studying. Henley Business School will work with your employer to assign a line manager/mentor to you to help put these learning structures in place, which will be supported by your apprenticeship tutor at Henley.
Being an apprentice involves working in teams that you have not worked with before and performing tasks that are outside of your normal job role. You may be assigned projects or certain tasks in unfamiliar surroundings as part of your 20% off-the-job requirement, and so communication, problem-solving, influencing, and listening skills are all important skills you need to get ahead.
If you are a new apprentice, use your induction period to make sure that you find those members of staff who can help you learn about the company and its strategy. This will help you acclimatise more easily and feel like you are undertaking meaningful work as part of a team.
Above all, build a good relationship with your mentor, and you will find that there are no stupid questions when it comes to being an apprentice!
Be organised and disciplined
You will have to balance a lot through studying at university and doing a job. Being organised is so important to the success of completing your apprenticeship so you do not fall behind. Your employer will be paying you a wage so you will still need to be productive and motivated in your job.
Make sure you and your mentor are aware of assignment and project deadlines, so that you have your reviews booked in, and your mentor/line manager can take part.
Make sure you are aware of the expectations that your employer has for you in your job role.
Always start your projects early, communicate with those you need input from, and be disciplined with your time to attend lectures or online webinars.
Proactively contribute to your apprenticeship development reviews. These will be organised with your Henley apprentice tutor ever quarter. Within these and the apprenticeship you need to take ownership of your development and drive forward your progression
Ultimately, make sure you know when your training finishes and the gateway to your EPA process starts. That way, you can ask for timely support in any areas you want to improve on before your assessment starts.
Engaging on an apprenticeship with Henley will be challenging and engaging but hard work! However, if you are well informed of the journey before you enrol you will have the best experience and it will make all the demanding work worthwhile.
Henley will have had prior conversations with your employer to make sure that each apprenticeship has a study and work plan which you will be taken through as part of your induction and initial assessment which will show the academic staff at Henley what your prior experience and qualifications are so they can build your training plan appropriately.
One size does not fit all in apprenticeships, and so it is important that you are flexible in your approach to your study. Individuals study and work in different ways and so you may find that you work at a different pace than your peers. You will also have to learn new academic skills quite quickly: these could be in the form of research and report writing, presentations, critical thinking, discussions and adapting to certain forms of digital technology.
Be curious and independent
As a degree level apprentice, we encourage you to explore the unknown and accept further responsibility without necessarily being asked to. Your development pathway provides you with the tools you require to become an effective leader, your challenge is to maximise these. Many organisations benefit from looking outside their own company at others who operate by bringing in new processes or technologies to further enhance their capabilities.
Find out more about studying on an apprenticeship programme with Henley Business School.