Employer Tips: Retaining Your Apprentice / Trainee

One of the aims of the ApprenticeshipCentral website is to provide employers and apprentices with information to assist in creating successful apprenticeships.

To understand what you can do as an employer to ensure that your apprenticeship is a successful partnership, we have provided some helpful tips below.

A Successful Apprenticeship Begins With a Great Job Description

You want to attract the right person from the very beginning. This means being very clear on what your expectations as an employer are. When writing a vacancy advertisement you should explain what your company does. If you have a mission statement, include it within the advertisement.The more a prospective apprentice knows about your company and what you do, the easier it will be for them to decide whether it is the right working environment for them, which means the applicants you do receive will generally hold the same values as your company.

Get More Out of the Interview Process

When you have applicant ready to interview you should prepare a checklist of all the information you want to gain from interviewing this person. If you have a prepared job description, use it to guide your questions. Every question you ask the interviewee should relate to a skill or a personal attribute that you consider important to the position.

Because an apprenticeship is about acquiring work skills, don’t expect your candidate to perform all of the acquired duties straight away. What you need to look for is behaviour, attitudes and transferrable skills that will allow the applicant to adapt to the tasks and duties required.

Most importantly look for someone who is passionate about the apprenticeship, as it will do you no good in the long run to hire someone who has all the skills, but is likely to leave after six months because they are not enjoying the work.

Keep an eye out for an applicant who:

  • Looks towards their future
  • Will take initiative, get on with the job and work independently
  • Knows how to get along with other workers while still getting on with the job
  • Listens and follows direction well
  • Has a positive attitude and is willing to learn and grow.

The First Few Weeks

The key to a good apprenticeship is communication between employer and apprentice. To establish that communication early on, take your apprentice through an induction process in the first couple of weeks.

This process should include:

  • Reviewing the job description and taking the apprentice through their tasks and explaining your expectations for them.
  • Making the apprentice aware of the emergency procedures of your worksite as well as directing them on where to find first aid stations.
  • Showing the apprentice you are committed to their training by implementing the training plan and organising their training with a Registered Training Organisation (RTO). This will show the apprentice that you are committed to their success of their apprenticeship.
  • Making communication a priority: Organise for the apprentice’s supervisor to provide constructive feedback and also encourage your apprentice to ask questions if they are unsure of certain tasks or duties, and touch base with how they feel they are handling their training and tasks..
Communication throughout the Apprenticeship

Once communication and trust have been established in the early stages of the apprenticeship it is important to maintain this relationship. Put in place regular “catch ups” where you can discuss with the apprentice how they are progressing and highlight any positive working habits or behaviours.

If there are areas where the apprentice needs to raise performance, discuss this with them and develop strategies together that you can put into action and adjust if necessary. Likewise, if the apprentice has an issue, negotiate ways in which you can overcome these difficulties.

It is helpful to think of the relationship between apprentice and employer as a car. The longer you go without a service or tune up, the more likely it is to break down. Always keep in mind that your apprenticeship needs a “tune up” once in a while and take the time to work on it.

Completing the Apprenticeship and Transitioning to a Qualified Tradesperson

Once training is complete, your apprentice will become a qualified tradesperson. This will be a great asset for your company. You will have a person who has trained, worked and lived in accordance to your company’s ideals. It may take some time for your newly qualified apprentice to adjust, but don’t be afraid to offer them new responsibilities.Make them aware that they are a valuable part of your business and even though their training is complete, there are still ways in which they can grow and adapt as a worker as you may even consider them as a supervisor for your next apprentice!

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