Four ways to better engage your apprentices

1 Sep 2017 By Sue Husband

Sue Husband offers her top tips for supporting and motivating apprentices so organisations and individuals alike benefit from the working relationship

Apprenticeships are a great way for employers to improve the skills base of their organisations by engaging bright, driven people looking to earn while they learn. An apprenticeship programme delivers the greatest value when the whole business is invested in its success and apprentices feel fully supporting in their training.

There are several ways to ensure that both the organisation and the learner gets the most from apprenticeships. From making sure there are opportunities for apprentices to progress, to offering real responsibility and taking advantage of the mentorship opportunities apprenticeships provide the wider workforce, investing time in extra planning will maximise the benefits apprentices bring to your organisation.

1. Promote progression

By training apprentices internally, and monitoring and tracking their skills development, organisations can carve out routes for apprentices to progress. Ensuring they have a thorough knowledge of the way your business works and the tools they need to deliver in their role will give them with the best chance of doing so.

This will, in turn, develop competent and driven additions to your workforce. According to Education and Skills Funding Agency Research, 36 per cent of higher apprentices report getting a promotion after completing their apprenticeship. In addition, learners can progress from intermediate (Level 2) apprenticeships up to higher and degree apprenticeships (Levels 6 and 7) within your company. This means that apprentices can progress professionally as well as academically, potentially earning a degree-level qualification.  

2. Give real responsibility

Developing the skills of an apprentice will prepare them for the workplace more broadly, beyond just the duration of their apprenticeship. We hear from apprentices that the apprenticeship route enabled them to gain key work and life skills.

A key way to guarantee preparedness and productivity is by setting clear objectives and a coherent pipeline of work with real responsibility. Providing and supervising this workload can also lead to increased productivity across the business. In fact, we see that apprenticeships can boost productivity to businesses by an average of £214 per week, with 76 per cent of employers reporting that apprenticeships improve the quality of their product or service.

3. Communicate clearly

Effectively communicating with your apprentices through clear, open channels will ultimately enable their growth within the company. Particularly with school leavers entering the workplace for the first time, providing clear communication through constructive feedback on tasks is as important as being approachable. Clear communication channels will aid the relationship between apprentices and their managers, ensuring a good understanding of their strengths and weaknesses as they finish the programme and look for future opportunities within your organisation.

4. Make the most of mentoring

Many companies find apprenticeships can bring a wealth of benefits to the wider workforce. The opportunity to mentor or manage an apprentice is one employers can use to motivate existing staff through skill and knowledge sharing.

Coaching apprentices enables other employees to develop, get a taste of management and flex their leadership skills while demonstrating organisational values. Working with, guiding and inspiring apprenticeship talent can be a rewarding experience for the whole business.

Sue Husband is director of the National Apprenticeship Service. Find out more about taking on an apprentice at

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