I have been an apprentice at Vision ICT for just over a year now and knowing what I do I thought I would write a post about what helped me as an apprentice. With young and/or inexperienced apprentices especially, it is important to provide support so that they settle in well, develop with your organisation and help contribute to the success of your business.
Introduction and Information
When you introduce your apprentice to the workplace, a good introduction is key to helping them settle in well and learn all of the basic information that they need to know. In my experience, my introduction helped me to feel welcomed but there were a few aspects missed out that I learned throughout the year or had to ask for more information on when I needed to fill out my Employee Roles and Responsibilities Workbook. Try to ensure your introduction is as comprehensive as possible and includes information on:
- Their role and what exactly their day to day activities will include
- Provide practical guidance in areas such as working time, breaks, pay, working conditions and dress codes
- Information about Health and Safety
- Outline the line of authority and who they need to go to in case of emergencies, questions, complaints, advice etc
Always ensure that your apprentice knows they can ask you any questions. Vision ICT has been especially accommodating in this way and I know I can ask any member of staff for help.
Integration into the team
It is important to provide opportunities for your apprentice to socialise with the rest of the team and integrate themselves into the workplace culture. This will give them confidence and help them to feel valued which will encourage them to be productive and hard working.
I was so worried that because of my age and how new I was to the company, I would get no respect from my co-workers and bosses. This was fortunately not the case and being invited to work socials really made me feel valued and helped me to feel like I fit in well with the rest of the team. I do now think I could call all my colleagues friends.
Remember that your apprentice has made a commitment to you and to learn on the job. They will be aiming to train in a specific field or carer. Offer them support and training opportunities where you can. It is imperative that you provide them with responsibility and challenge them so they can develop professionally and improve their skills. You can do this by:
- Giving your apprentices a deadline and clear outline of your expectations
- Providing them with a safe and encouraging work environment
- Encouraging them to improve and set targets
- Perform regular appraisals so they have a clear understanding of what they are doing well and what skills still need developing as well as giving them the chance to give you feedback on which areas they would like more support in
- Providing role models or shadowing/mentoring opportunities so your apprentice has someone to take advice from and enhance their skills and opportunities
I’ve personally found regular appraisals to be invaluable in terms of letting me know how I am progressing and what my director wants from me as well as providing me the opportunity to give my own feedback and let my director know exactly which fields I struggle with and which I am most interested in. My work environment has always felt encouraging and I am often mentored by our Graphic Designer who is helping me to follow my passion in the more creative site of web development. This keeps me interested and motivated at work as well as letting me know I am in control of my learning.
This isn’t applicable to all apprentices but some may require additional support if they have disabilities or mental health issues. You should get to know your apprentice and make sure you are doing everything in your power to provide the support they need. This may be things like allowing extra time for tasks, one-on-one coaching, adapted learning materials and most importantly understanding.
I have been very lucky in how well Vision ICT handles apprentices and they have made my apprenticeship run smoothly.