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Best Practices to Manage Apprentices Effectively in Your Business

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If you're overseeing apprentices for the first time, you might find it to be different from managing regular employees. Apprentices are essentially learners, so the support they need differs to the support you give to regular employees.

This blog is here to help you manage apprentices effectively, whether you're new to it or have done it before.

We'll break down the differences between managing apprentices and regular employees and give you practical tips to make sure your apprenticeship programme runs smoothly.

How does apprentice management differ from regular management?

Apprentices are typically new to the job / industry and so they require more guidance and support as they learn. Apprentice management focuses heavily on providing opportunities for learning and skill development, ensuring apprentices understand their roles clearly.

It's important to create a supportive environment where apprentices feel comfortable asking questions and making mistakes. Regular check-ins help monitor their progress, and discussions about future opportunities within the company should occur frequently.

Similarities between managing apprentices and regular employees:

  • Both apprentices and regular employees contribute to the work of the company
  • Both may have specific duties and responsibilities within their roles
  • Both may be subject to company policies and procedures
  • Both are considered ‘employees’ and paid a wage by the employer.

Differences between managing apprentices and regular employees:

  • Apprentices are typically new to the job and require more guidance and support as they learn, whereas regular employees are already familiar with their roles / industry
  • Apprentice management focuses heavily on providing opportunities for learning and skills development, while regular employee management may focus more on performance and productivity
  • Apprenticeships often involve structured training programmes, while regular employees may receive ongoing training but are generally expected to perform their duties independently.

Managing junior apprentices vs. managing experienced apprentices

Managing apprentices who are new to the job differs from managing mature or experienced apprentices in several ways.

With new apprentices, there's a greater emphasis on providing guidance, support, and learning opportunities as they navigate the early stages of their career. They may require more supervision and direction to help them develop the necessary skills and confidence as, for some of them, this will be their first position in a workplace environment.

In contrast, mature or experienced apprentices may already have a solid foundation of skills and knowledge and may already have a stronger understanding of professional standards and the workplace.

This means management of mature apprentices may involve encouraging more autonomy and independence, with a focus on fine-tuning existing skills and providing opportunities for continued growth within the organisation.

In short, mature apprentices may benefit from mentorship tailored to their individual career goals and aspirations, rather than the essential, on-the-job training given to juniors.

How to manage your apprentices effectively

Introducing your apprentice to the team

When welcoming a new apprentice into your team, it's essential to facilitate a smooth integration process.

Take the time to introduce them to the rest of the team, making it clear that they are here to learn and grow, and be a valuable asset to the team. Take this chance to introduce the team members to the apprentice and outline their respective roles.

Emphasise that, while they may not have the same level of experience as other team members, their contribution is valued. Encourage team members to support the apprentice's development and make them feel welcome.

Manage apprentices with clear expectations

Clarity is key when outlining the expectations for your apprentice; clearly define their duties and responsibilities, ensuring they understand what is expected of them.

As an employer, communicate your expectations explicitly, outlining the standards of performance and behaviour you expect from them. This sets the foundation for a productive working relationship.

You can communicate these expectations in two ways: talking directly with the apprentice or giving them an apprentice handbook. You can pick one or the other, although both are recommended. Arrange a meeting to chat about their role, what they're supposed to do, and how they should perform. Encourage them to ask any questions they have.

Also provide them with an employee handbook. This document explains all the rules, procedures, and what's expected of all employees. They can refer to it whenever they need to, making sure everyone's on the same page.

Provide support and mentorship

Offering support and mentorship is essential for the success of your apprentice so they can become productive members of the team. Direct them to individuals within the team who they can turn to for guidance if they need advice, such as a manager or a more experienced colleague.

Additionally, let them know about potential roles for further development within the company if you wish to take them on as a hire post-apprenticeship. Provide them with resources and support for further development, ensuring they have the tools and opportunities to succeed in employment both during and after their apprenticeship.

Establish a progress tracking plan

Work with your apprentice to create a development plan with clear goals and milestones. Regular check-ins can help monitor their progress and address any challenges they may encounter along the way.

You can work with them to come up with regular intervals across the year to check-in on their progress, whether that be monthly, quarterly or biweekly.

Consider that as an apprentice they will be doing on-the-job training and classroom-based learning, so make space for that in their development plan to ensure a well-rounded learning experience.

Accommodate to their study times

Recognise that apprentices are required to dedicate a 20% portion of their working time to off-the-job study. Collaborate with them and the team to create a schedule that accommodates their study commitments while ensuring the smooth functioning of the business.

Be understanding that they may require time off for college learning days and independent study.

Find the right balance between independence and support

It's important to balance support and independence for your apprentice so they have the room to develop their skills independently while still having support in the workplace.

Adapt your approach to fit how they learn best. Encourage them to take initiative while still being there to help when they need it.

Getting this balance right helps your apprentice do well in their role and make a valuable contribution to your business.

How Total People support apprentice management

We are committed to delivering top-tier training to apprentices, ensuring they emerge from their apprenticeship as highly valued employees. With a focus on tailored programmes, we employ experienced instructors who provide high-quality training sessions and regular one-to-one support.

We also provide continuous support to employers throughout the apprenticeship journey – from recruiting your first apprentice, to upskilling a member of your team.

Regular check-ins and guidance sessions ensure apprentices are progressing well and have the necessary resources to succeed, and employers are kept informed and supported throughout the apprenticeship process. Work with Total People today and revolutionise your apprenticeship management strategies.

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