It’s been wonderful to hear directly from apprentices this week about the impact their apprenticeship has had on their careers and lives (including our own apprentice, here). It’s also been great to hear what has made their apprenticeship experience so successful and the different stakeholders involved.
But what does this all mean for those delivering the training? How might the experiences shared by apprentices this National Apprenticeship Week help shape the way we support and train them?
Here are five reflections from SDN’s Bradley Goldsworthy:
A new job
A new job often brings a complex mix of emotions, especially for apprentices starting out in their career. They face what can feel like a barrage of emotions that somehow need to be put into order and managed in a calm manner, which is easier said than done. Coupling that with the high expectations providers rightly have, in terms of the overall apprenticeship experience, it is a lot to process and handle for the apprentice who not only has to juggle the pressures of the job but also learn and track their own journey.
What support do you put in place to help apprentices not only settle into their learning, but into their role and the workplace?
The culture of their workplace
Apprentices thrive when there is a supportive workplace culture.
Sometimes this can be a complete unknown when you first start work with a new employer and their apprentice/s – the employer seems great, the apprentice seems willing, but the workplace culture is not what we envisage. It is not as rosy as the perfect corridor we were asked to sit and wait in during our first introductions.
What do we truly know about the apprentice’s colleagues and their allocated mentor? Are they getting the breadth of support they need? Are the behaviours part of the apprenticeship standard going to go in the right direction?
These are questions we need to be asking not just when we first get the commitment from the employer, but all the way through.
It’s a tough line to tread in apprenticeships. With one arm we care and support, with the other we need to keep the KSB development ‘ticking’. Do we have the balance right for each apprentice? How well do we understand their role, their ‘fit’ within the organisation, the true time they get to apply and develop their new Knowledge, Skills, and Behaviours at their own unique pace. As providers you will need to balance your own expectations by gaining accurate information and understanding.
The employer experience
We all know that every employer is different – they all have their own unique quirks and unique staff. We need to remember and strive to find out as much as possible about this employer before we subject an apprentice to this new experience. Much of the apprentice’s experience lies with the employer and fortunately – now, more than ever -they help truly sculpt this experience. However, for me, meeting just the organisation leads in a training provider role is not enough to paint the picture of safety and wellbeing of that employer. The ‘buy in’ must be from top to tail for the richest of apprentice experiences.
The apprenticeship provider experience
Just like employers, providers all have common goals and common external measures. However, they are all unique, operate in different ways and have different strengths. It is important that the apprentice is given the opportunity to speak to different providers before ‘taking the plunge’ with a provider and the job attached. They need to go onto the apprenticeship programme,, that will best help them achieve their career goals. How often as professionals do we go, “I think this provider would suit you better”?
It all comes back to putting the apprentice – and their interests – at the centre of all we do.
Take time this #NAW2024 to hear what apprentices are telling you, and then reflect on what that means for you as a provider.