A Learning and Development (L&D) apprentice is just starting out on an incredibly rewarding career path.
These apprentices will be brimming with motivation and ambition to learn, but how do you ensure that this is the case in the long term?
With the likes of the L&D Practitioner apprenticeship taking around 24 months to complete, it’s essential to keep that morale up throughout.
Give Them Real Responsibilities
Apprentices don’t want to be stuck with menial tasks like making tea and tidying up the office, so give them real responsibilities.
A study by the University of Warwick found that:
“Evidence suggests that poor quality of training (however defined), or even the lack of training provision, is usually ranked second in terms of its impact on non-completion.”
Simply put, if you’re not providing training or this isn’t up to scratch, your apprentice won’t stick around. Give them a real chance to learn and become a leader in the workplace.
As well as learning through their off-the-job training, you want to give the apprentice the opportunity to apply their knowledge. Encourage them to use their knowledge and guide them on the best way to bring it to the workplace.
For example, the apprentice will learn how to design learning and development activities through their course. To allow them to use this skill, you could suggest training courses for them to design, then later in their course you may want to encourage them to deliver this.
Appreciate Their Suggestions
Apprentices can be any age, but generally you’ll find that they’re quite inexperienced in the new field they’re studying in. For this reason, it’s important for you to build their confidence, so when they have that million-dollar idea, they’re comfortable with sharing it.
Apprentices will often have a totally different view from other members of staff. They may put forward effective solutions from their studies or background that others may not have thought of.
Ensure that you practice active listening when the apprentice is pitching a new idea. If you appear disinterested or don’t take their suggestions seriously, then this may prevent them from starting a discussion in future.
Simply making eye contact and using follow up questions can begin to build the confidence of the apprentice. Make time for their ideas and guide them on how they could be improved, not every idea is stellar, but they can often be refined.
Set SMART Targets
Working towards academic and performance-based goals can feel like a never-ending process for the apprentice. Break these overall targets into shorter term SMART goals to keep them motivated to complete their term.
These goals should be Specific, Memorable, Achievable. Relevant and Time-bound. Through regular formal reviews and more frequent informal reviews, you can assess their progress towards these goals.
This forms a part of the mentoring relationship that the apprentice requires to thrive. While they may be full of high hopes for their next review, you should also help them to temper this with realistic expectations. Setting lofty goals may seem like a good idea, but missing these can have a negative impact.
Goals can be academic, professional and even personal – as you seek to help them with all aspects of their further development.
Develop Your Feedback Style
If you’re more accustomed to dealing with experienced members of staff, then you may need to change your feedback style slightly.
What you believe to be simple feedback may not be understood by the apprentice. You may tell them that they need to change something, without guiding them as to what you want to see instead.
It’s easy to make these mistakes, especially if you’re not accustomed to dealing with apprentices. Feedback should always be constructive and offer suggestions as to what exactly the employee can do to improve their performance.
Attempt to tie in your feedback with the learning that they’re receiving; this should be straightforward if you engage in discussion on their progress regularly. Setting out your expectations clearly will ensure that you’re both working to the same end goal.
Show Them What’s Next
Apprenticeships are intended to be the first step on the ladder, and looking forward to what’s next can inspire the apprentice to keep climbing. Talking through the routes for progression with a timeline as to when they can expect to move on gives the apprentice more context and motivation.
Once they have their qualification, their role will change and it’s up to you to make the most of the training that they’ve undertaken. This could be a more senior role within the organisation, with new responsibilities for them to tackle. You may also want to lay out any details of further training that you’d like them to embark on next.
If you think that they would prefer to work in a different area of the business, you can also arrange for them to shadow a co-worker. If they take to this new area, then arranging new training can help them to be the best in their team.
Allow Them to Work Autonomously
While you want to monitor and mentor the apprentice, you should also be prepared to let them work autonomously too. This is the kind of responsibility that these apprentices should be able to handle, especially if they hope to be able to develop others.
With our flexible online learning system, the apprentice can study within the workplace, which gives them more ownership of their education. To complement this, you can allow them to work flexibly and prioritise their own tasks.
Keep on top of their workload and productivity, as this will give you a warning if their motivation begins to slip over the apprenticeship. Addressing this as and when it happens shows the apprentice that you’re invested in their future with the company.
No one wants to feel like their boss is always looking over their shoulder, so give your apprentice room to really grow.
L&D is a fantastic career choice, so give your apprentice the best chance at success by keeping them motivated. Then, they can go on to become a valued professional within the business.