Key factors in launching a successful apprenticeship programme- Issue one
Issue One – getting line managers “buy in”
A big issue for employers in setting up an apprenticeship programme is in how it is perceived by line managers. The line manager has the power to make or break a programme by offering support, facilitating on the job learning and also promoting the apprenticeship to their team – or not!
There are a number of myths you may need to dis-spell here if you want your programme to be successful.
Myth 1 – Apprenticeships are not relevant to professionals
Many still believe that apprenticeships are something for school leavers who were not clever enough to pursue other careers or for manual roles. This view is a long way from the new style professional apprenticeship standards which include challenging business skills and professional qualifications. A good clear explanation of the programme and the standards involved will help here. Many of the best recruits are choosing apprenticeships to avoid university debt resulting in a pool of high quality candidates undertaking apprenticeships.
Myth 2 – I will lose my staff for one day every week
A key feature to cover here is also to explain clearly the off the job learning requirement. This will be covered in a later blog but is not the 1 full day away from work each week which many managers believe. Although there will be time away at college much of the learning is reflected in the experiences which the apprentice gathers in his workplace. Any employer who is invested in developing their team in the workplace is likely to meet this requirement already.
Some employers have also reported a more enthusiastic and effective team as a result of study leave being provided in the working week. Those employees who regularly do all their studying in their free time are likely to be tired and demotivated in the workplace as a result.
Myth 3 – The line manager will need to spend a lot of time managing the apprenticeship
An effective manager will already monitor his team’s workload and ensure exposure to new experience’s and provide regular feedback. The apprenticeship requires the manager to work with the training provider to mentor the employee. This means:
– sharing information about the job role and apprentice’s development
– attending part of the quarterly progress review to share information
– working with the provider to motivate the apprentice and keep them on track should they fall behind.
In most cases this amounts to less than an hour per month on top of the routine line manager responsibilities.
Myth 4 – an apprenticeship is just a free professional qualification
This is an attitude we see all too frequently and usually leads to an unhappy relationship between the apprentice, line manager and training provider. Done well an apprenticeship is an exciting challenge and a chance to speed up the development of soft business skills by the employee.
Managers often complain about the lack of communication skills and commercial awareness of millennials in their workforce. A strong skills programme should seek to overcome these issues with the result that the manager benefits from a more effective and empathetic employee.
In my role as director of apprenticeships I have seen these issues many times and worked with employers to help them obtain the buy in if line managers. Please do contact me if you would like to discuss your apprenticeship programme.
To find out more about apprenticeships why not come to our Levy breakfast on the 15th May.