Most organisations changed their approach towards apprenticeships when former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced a major reform to the way they worked in his 2013 Autumn Statement. The government committed to doubling the number of apprenticeships available, which meant that over a span of two years, an additional 20,000 young people could opt for on-the-job training, with employers funded directly through HMRC.
The reform seems to be working, based on the statistics made available in the House of Commons Library (November 2016). Increasingly, students are more likely to regard a vocational pathway as equal to a university degree. The desire to earn while learning has also grown significantly, with more young people eager to avoid the prospect of a debt-ridden future. In response to this change in perception, top-quality modern apprenticeships are offering a progressive blend of qualifications, training and salary within a wide range of industries.
The need for apprenticeship programmes
A commonly asked question here is – why should business owners bother with an apprenticeship programme in the first place? These are often the same people who believe apprenticeships are a pointless process where the organisation invests time and money into an individual who then leaves.
There are two responses to this question. Firstly, if every organisation thinks that way, how do industries plan to attract new employees? talent? Organisations will erode due to the lack of new and young talent. Existing workers will end up losing their skills, and there will be nobody available to take their place. Bringing in apprentices helps the work cycle continue.
Secondly, if the organisation does the right thing by its apprentices and shows them that there is a career progression available for them, if they are so inclined, it is rare they’ll leave. Of course, occasionally this will happen, but that’s just how business works. Stopping the training of apprentices isn’t the solution, since everyone loses in the process and, ultimately, the industry dies.
In addition, apprentices are great for any organisation. To begin with, they help to focus a business’ processes, as they need to be100% correct before taking on the responsibility of an apprentice. It’s vital not to pass on bad habits that can, invariably, build up over time in any industry or business. Apprenticeship programmes ensure a greater emphasis on health and safety, and other procedures. But, for a lot of managers, the greatest benefit lies in the fresh perspective apprentices bring to the workplace. They look at things differently and are prepared to ask questions, challenge the status quo and contribute to improving existing work processes. Sometimes, it just takes a fresh pair of eyes to find new solutions to old problems.
The biggest challenge here is to ensure that all apprentices receive solid and structured training. Therefore, it’s tremendously important that employees find time to train apprentices properly. Failure to do so can lead to an inferior quality of work being produced which, in turn, damages the reputation of the organisation. Managers and trainers need to closely monitor their work, check its quality and keep coaching them through the processes they need to use.
A good way to train apprentices is to show them the way in which certain systems need to be used and then step back. When they approach a task, they can come up with a clear plan of how to complete it themselves. This allows them to think freely, use their own judgement and, in the long run, be capable of making their own decisions in the future. Once the apprentices have come up with a plan, the trainer needs to discuss the pros and cons involved, and only then decide on the correct way to move forward.
Getting the best results
A rewards system needs to be put in place for both the apprentice and the trainer, to produce positive results. For the apprentice, this could be – praise for doing a good job, monetary rewards on a regular basis to show that their work benefits the organisation, and potential for their apprenticeship to lead to a full-time job offer. The rewards for the organisation are is – good quality work being produced and the knowledge that they have contributed to teaching people skills they will remember for the rest of their lives. This kind of personal pride benefits the company because people feel as though they’re part of a team and thereby value their work more.
Therefore, organisations need to take a leap of faith regarding apprentices, and commit to training those that appear to be willing to learn.
The Working Futures event on 23rd March will discuss some of these topics and many more! Held at the Business Design Centre in London – to register please contact Clive Frake: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 0203 752 5254