8 Ways to Prepare When Taking on an Apprentice

8 min

Whether overcoming the skills gap or solving your hiring challenges within a competitive market, apprenticeships are a perfect option for businesses looking to grow. Apprenticeships allow top talent to take charge of their careers, providing on-the-job learning and industry knowledge. As a result, apprentices can play a significant role in taking your business above your competition. Still, when your business considers taking on an apprentice, it's always best to be prepared. 

With over two decades of assessing, placing and training apprentices, we are best placed to provide support on how to prepare your business when taking on an apprentice. As market leaders in growth and transformation, we aim to help people and businesses worldwide realise their potential - one way of doing this is through our apprenticeship offering.  

Before we delve into how to prepare for an apprenticeship, there are a few key points to consider when preparing to hire an apprentice. 

Is an Apprenticeship Classed as Full-Time Education?

Unlike other training programmes and courses, apprenticeships combine on-the-job and classroom learning. This training mix allows apprentices to gain hands-on experience in the role and industry they are working in and the opportunity to put the theory they learn during the apprenticeship to practice. 

If an apprenticeship were classed as full-time education, your business wouldn't benefit in the short term. This is another reason why apprenticeships offer a split of practical work experience and classroom theory to ensure your business can maintain productivity. 

At Pareto, 80% of your apprentice's learning is undertaken in your workplace. We offer this to allow your apprentice to master their role and give your business the support it needs.

The main similarities between an apprenticeship and full-time education are the level of the qualification. For example, our Level 3 courses are equivalent to an A-Level qualification, and our Level 4 and 5 advanced-level apprenticeships equate to a foundation university degree.  

How Long Does an Apprenticeship Last?

If you're considering taking on an apprentice, it's important to ensure you have the time and resources to accommodate your recruit or existing employee you're looking to upskill. 

Apprenticeship programmes typically last 12-15 months, but most providers can provide support throughout the course. Our training programmes have a minimum duration of 12 months with a 3-month end-point assessment process. When you partner with Pareto as your apprenticeship provider, we will be by your side to guide you and your apprentice through every step of the course duration and beyond.

Select an Apprenticeship Programme

Whether you're looking to utilise an apprenticeship to fill a skills gap within your business, grow a division within your organisation or develop a new or existing employee, selecting an apprenticeship programme that will best support your business needs is essential.

Our apprenticeship courses cater to Sales, Leadership and Management and Digital and IT and allow for remote learning for ease of access. Before you select your course, we will take the time to get to know your requirements and connect you with a tailored apprenticeship solution to enhance your business.

Choose Your Training Provider

Once you've selected the training programme best suited to your business needs, finding the best apprenticeship training provider to deliver the course is essential. 

You should research your provider and speak to them directly to see how they can support your business, from the curriculum they offer to the reputation they have.

We have over 25 years of supporting top talent and businesses with apprenticeships and training solutions. We can accommodate our courses to help the growth of your company, and we can also tailor our programmes to suit your specific business needs. From support with funding and enrolment to how to get the most out of the course for you and your apprentice, we will help you realise the potential of apprenticeships.

How to Prepare For an Apprenticeship

Now that you're ready to bring your apprentice into your team, explore our 8 ways to prepare for an apprenticeship.

1. Assign a Mentor For Your Apprentice

Before taking on an apprentice, you should ensure you have someone within your existing team who can mentor your apprentice. The mentor's responsibility will consist of supporting the apprentice throughout the apprenticeship, passing down their knowledge, delegating and assisting with tasks, and essentially being the apprentice's go-to internal outlet. 

Your chosen mentor can also hold regular 1-2-1s with the apprentice, allowing time to reflect on the apprentice's performance, highlight any room for improvement and provide praise. 1-2-1s also offer a chance for the mentor to establish a better working relationship with the apprentice, an opportunity to get to know more about them and their goals and aspirations. 

When preparing to assign a mentor for your apprentice, ensure the individual you select is capable and willing to take on the added responsibility and works in or has a deep understanding of the role your apprentice will be stepping into. For example, an experienced senior team leader could take on the mentor position, or it could be an opportunity for a passionate individual who wants to progress within your organisation. 

2. Have An Onboarding Process Ready

As part of your preparation for bringing an apprentice into your business, it's essential to have an excellent onboarding process ready. From day one, you need to make your apprentice feel welcomed by the team, comfortable in their surroundings and motivated to help take their career and your business to new heights. 

Your apprentice should be introduced to each department of your business, regardless of whether they will regularly collaborate with them. It's important that your new hire has an awareness of everything your company does; this is also a great way of introducing them to your other employees. Throughout the first week or two of your apprentice's start date, you should schedule introductory sessions with your wider team to allow your apprentice to get to know everyone and your company culture. 

Whether or not your apprentice has previous experience in a workplace environment, you should show them around the office and give them a detailed overview of your organisation's do's and don'ts. Ultimately, the onboarding process should help set your apprentice up for success. 

3. Provide Well-Being and Safeguarding Support

Your apprentice should be aware of your well-being and safeguarding policy and know how to raise any concerns or problems. Like any hire you make, you want your employee to feel safe and happy to work for your business. 

Before your apprentice joins, you should prepare your team by familiarising them with your company's well-being and safeguarding policy. This familiarisation is especially necessary for those in your team who will manage or mentor your newest team member. 

At Pareto, we're committed to our learner's safety and well-being - it is at the forefront of our process. Our apprenticeship safeguarding hub of hope gives our learners the confidence and reassurance they will be protected within the workplace.

4. Prepare the Roles and Responsibilities of Your Apprentice

As mentioned, a good portion of the apprenticeship will involve on-the-job learning. Therefore, you should prepare a list of roles and responsibilities you would like your apprentice to pick up. Initially, give your apprentice smaller tasks that free up your senior employees' schedules. Then, in time, you can increase the difficulty of the tasks, allowing your apprentice to grow at a rate that works for you and your apprentice. 

When you selected an apprenticeship programme, you may have already envisioned the roles and responsibilities of your apprentice. From helping to close a skills shortage within your business to providing general support for a specific department within your company, the duties you give to your apprentice should ultimately help advance your business and the career of your apprentice. 

From the interview and enrolment stages of the apprenticeship, or if your apprentice is an existing team member you're upskilling, you should know what duties your apprentice is capable of and what is beyond their current ability. Setting yourself and your apprentice expectations is important at this stage, regardless of your apprentice's ability when joining your company. You may be surprised that your apprentice is more capable than you first thought.

5. Give Your Apprentice Clear Goals and Objectives 

Similar to assigning roles and responsibilities, you should also consider what goals and objectives you'd like your apprentice to work towards. These can be short and long-term milestones and should always be purposeful for helping your apprentice and your business succeed. 

Additionally, their objectives should be measurable, relevant, manageable and realistic for your apprentice to achieve alongside their apprenticeship and daily roles and responsibilities. For example, short-term goals could be completing a specific task, whereas long-term objectives could focus more on the professional development of your apprentice. Your assigned mentor could set your apprentice's initial goals and objectives before being onboarded. Then, the mentor can review the goals and set new objectives in each 1-2-1 session.

Setting goals and objectives is essential for keeping any employee motivated and is great for building your organisation's retention rate. In addition, giving your apprentice goals and objectives to work towards will make them feel valued and invested in your business.    

6. Communicate With Your Apprenticeship Provider

Before, during, and after your apprentice is embedded into your business, you should communicate regularly with your chosen apprenticeship provider. You must build a relationship with your provider to ensure you are kept up to date with how your apprentice is getting on with the training programme. 

Of course, this relationship works both ways, and as long as you choose a partner like Pareto, you will establish a successful relationship with your training provider. We recommend having regular meetings including your apprentice, their mentor and the apprenticeship provider. These catch-ups are an excellent way for all parties to know where the apprentice is, where they are going and what they can achieve on their apprenticeship journey. 

We are more than just your apprenticeship provider; we're the partner of your company who can help you unlock the power of potential. Our apprenticeship team loves to keep in regular contact with our learners' employers, especially when we see their apprentice's positive impact on the business. 

7. Engage With the Apprenticeship Course

When choosing the apprenticeship courses best suited to solving your business challenges, you must engage with the programme throughout the course. Even before the course begins, you and your chosen mentor should understand what the apprenticeship entails to ensure you're fully prepared and not met with any surprises later down the line. 

You should have an awareness of the apprenticeship course from start to finish and be able to support your apprentice throughout each stage of the programme. 

This knowledge can come from having regular communication with your training provider, as we alluded to in the previous point. 

Your apprentice is more likely to succeed on the apprenticeship if they see you are engaged in what they're working towards. This engagement can come from the regular 1-2-1s between the mentor and the apprentice and catch-ups with the training provider. But ultimately, how can you expect your apprentice to stay engaged if you show little interest and don't engage with the apprenticeship course yourself? 

8. Manage Your Apprentices Performance 

Finally, it would be best if you prepared to manage your apprentice's performance when taking on an apprentice. From day one in joining your company and starting the programme to the day they graduate, you should be invested in your apprentice's performance and give them every opportunity to succeed.

From ensuring your apprentice is carrying out their roles and responsibilities, is achieving their set goals and objectives and is fitting in well with your company culture, you should manage their performance throughout the apprenticeship. Although we advise shying away from holding your apprentice's hand, you and your mentor can manage your apprentice's performance using some of the mentioned points - regular 1-2-1s being a prime example. 

When taking on an apprentice, you are investing in their career and your business. Their success is ultimately your success. Therefore, to ensure you see an ROI from your apprentice, you much manage their performance and ensure they are given the support and tools to enhance and futureproof your business. 

Ready to Take on an Apprentice?

So, get in touch today if you need additional support in preparing for taking on an apprentice and discover more about why apprenticeships are the perfect solution for transforming careers and businesses or speak with a member of the Pareto team to start your apprenticeship journey today.

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