How To Prepare Your Team and Business For Apprenticeships

5 min

As more apprenticeships are being offered as a solution to skills gaps, businesses need to accommodate time for learning during working hours as well as prepare for certain operations to be impacted.

Taking on an apprentice will benefit your business sooner rather than later, but that doesn’t mean accommodations don’t need to be made. Remember that apprentice recruitment and training is going to be different than a normal hire, and even more so if the apprenticeship is being granted to an existing employee.

Making an excellent impression is vital to retain apprentices after they complete their qualifications. Avoid wasting the time and effort spent training your apprentice by preparing your team and business accordingly.

Why should I hire an apprentice?

Apprenticeships prepare the next generation of workers for a valuable and rewarding career in any industry. They provide excellent opportunities for both apprentice and employer to learn from each other, nurture talent, and hone new skills.

Apprentices can be taken on at different levels, from school leavers and university graduates to people who want to further their careers or change career direction completely. Apprenticeships can also be offered to existing staff who wish to move departments, or simply uplevel their skills.

As a mutually beneficial relationship, apprenticeships help the apprentice to learn and develop new skills while directly improving business operations. When you onboard an apprentice properly and make the transition into your workplace as smooth as possible, everyone reaps the benefits.

Introduce co-workers personally

Apprentices are often school leavers and may just be entering the world of work. Keep in mind that apprenticeships are sometimes used as a step into a new industry, so your new hire may be more nervous about fitting in than normal.

This is why it’s a good idea to introduce your apprentice to people they will be interacting with on a day-to-day basis, so they can get to know them and feel at ease around them sooner.

For senior leaders and managers, it’s a good idea to explain to the apprentice what the others are there to do and how they can help if the apprentice needs it. Offer friendly introductions and organise an ice-breaker session if you think it will help.

Setting expectations for the apprentice and the people around them can avoid any potential awkwardness or misunderstanding and will help to foster a more inclusive working environment.

Be clear about the apprenticeship itself

As an employer, it is essential that you offer an outline of the overall apprenticeship journey and are receptive to questions from new hires, even if they are repeated. Anyone who is new to a role will appreciate clear expectations and have a better chance of succeeding if they know what it is they need to do.

You should always provide:

  • A clear timeline – state the duration of the apprenticeship, as well as any deadlines which need to be met.
  • Criteria to be met – if they have any goals or targets to meet, as well as learning outcomes, you should make sure these are clear.
  • Working standards – office dress code, manners, off-limits topics and appropriate communication and behaviour standards should all be covered.
  • A supportive environment – encourage your apprentice to ask questions, and let them know you are always there to help.

A thorough induction process will help the apprentice familiarise themselves with their tasks and expectations. This can help stop them from feeling overwhelmed when they start, and feeling too inhibited to ask for help.

Offer additional support

As well as providing ‘on-the-job’ training for your apprentice, you are encouraged as an employer to provide additional support to ensure your apprentice finds success in their new role.

This can be different from the support you offer to other members of staff, as apprentices often need additional help with certain tasks.

A comprehensive induction

A one-to-one meeting with your apprentice will let you impart information on expectations, including dress code, time management and other work habits.

You will also be able to delve into the job role and objectives to ensure they are clear on how they can perform above and beyond expectations.

One-on-one meetings

The opportunity to meet with or shadow key members of the team will help your hire understand how their role fits with the wider organisation.

Before you organise an apprentice, check with key members of your team to see if they would be receptive to assisting in the training process.

An organisation handbook

Preparing a written introduction to company policies will greatly benefit a new apprentice who may be unable to absorb the sheer volume of information presented to them. It will also prove a valuable resource for other new hires, as well as a reference for existing team members.

Apprentices will feel empowered to look up answers to questions for themselves while knowing you are there for anything that isn’t covered in the handbook.

Mentoring and social support

Assigning a workplace mentor or buddy is a powerful tool which can ensure your apprentice settles into their role quickly and thrives in the workplace.

Approach team members who you think would fit the role, and ask if they would be willing to be shadowed on a long-term basis. Having a point of contact who isn’t in a traditionally senior role may help the apprentice feel more comfortable relaying issues or questions.

Additionally, organising networking opportunities and in-person visits from past successful apprentices will help your new hire visualise their success.

Brief your existing teams on expectations

Understanding that apprentices are not expected to be experts when they start is vital when onboarding, particularly for young people and those changing careers.

Giving the apprentice the appropriate level of support is necessary, but don’t let the rest of your workforce suffer as a result. Make sure the support and inclusive environment you offer your apprentice are available to your other staff, to help everyone feel they are on the same team.

Reduce the chance of confusion or stress by informing your team as much as possible ahead of time about your chosen apprentice, their skill level and the expectations you have set. Make sure they know they may have to answer a few questions or be more patient.

By involving everyone in the apprenticeship process, you will foster a working environment that is set up for success.

Invest in an apprenticeship with Pareto

If you are ready to invest in the future of your organisation’s talent, get in touch with us to organise apprenticeship training. By doing so, you will strengthen your company and foster productivity, nurturing new talent to exactly fit your organisational needs.

Looking to strengthen your Business?

Let's Talk