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How To Manage An Apprentice - Gen Z Edition

Written by Satwika Saran - NGTU Ambassador and HR Rewards Apprentice at Samsung Electronics


Navigating the relationship for a line manager with a new apprentice can be tough, especially if you don't have experience managing young talent before. It is important to highlight that an apprentice is not the typical intern, if you have worked with a placement student or graduate before.


Unfortunately the achievement rate for apprenticeships in 2023 was just 51% according to Skills and FE Minister Robert Halfon MP, and a large proportion of apprentices are still dropping out due to lack of support and adequate training.


Here are 7 tips from some of the most experienced industry professionals at Samsung Electronics - to keep in mind for managing and maximising the potential of an apprentice in your team:


1) Educate yourself


Do you know what an apprenticeship actually is? Do you know the framework and standards your apprentice is working towards in their particular subject?


Apprenticeships are still misunderstood in the sense that a newbie will be recruited in an organisation, and you will have to spend a lot of money, resources and 1-2-1 training for it to not have a sufficient return on investment.


However, for most larger organisations, apprenticeships are structured programmes to help an individual upskill, and is paid for by the levy. You need to invest the same one on one support you would with any new recruit in the business.


Apprentices must have 20% integrated in their working hours to study and complete other "off the job" hours. They typically enrol on to a qualification or degree, alongside completing the apprenticeship element of the programme. The final months of an apprenticeship is the End Point Assessment (EPA) where the apprentices is examined to ensure they are professionally competent for their role.


Before enrolling your apprentice on to a course, know their learning styles. Would they prefer an in-person course, blended or completely virtual? Is it day release or block release?


It is really important as a manager to ensure you know the training provider, qualification and course content of the apprenticeship.


2) Be mindful about their time


It's really easy to forget that apprentices are juggling their day to day work with studying, projects, assignments and exams.


Make sure you are giving them enough time and brain-space to do both. Ask your apprentice to put on their "out of office" when they are doing their off the job hours.


It is useful to map out a timeline with their most important study as well as work deadlines on a monthly basis. Integrate this with their development goals and share a timeline with your team. Having this visibility means your apprentice is less likely to be disturbed during their study hours.


3) Be patient - don't compare!


As mentioned, apprenticeships are different to placements and graduate programmes. Many young apprentices haven't had the experience to move away from home for university.  This means it could be the first time they have relocated, or it could be their first ever job. As a result, it may take them a bit longer to integrate with the work environment than more experienced entry level roles. However, once they have grabbed the ropes, the development of apprentices is accelerated as not only are they learning new skills on the job, they are also applying theoretical knowledge from their studies directly back into their role.


4) Give clear feedback


Feedback is essential to develop anyone in their role. As a manager you should allocate time for regular 1-2-1s with your apprentice to answer any questions they may have about tasks. Likewise, actively seek feedback on your management style, or processes that can be improved within your team. You should give them constructive feedback with real examples to illustrate what is expected for a task in terms of performance,  including advice on how they may be able to exceed their performance goals.


5) Don't underestimate their capability


Even though it could be the first job for many apprentices, it doesn't mean they are any less capable or intelligent than the rest of your team. Boost your apprentice's confidence by creating opportunities for them to share their experience and learnings. Don't be afraid to give them additional responsibility when they have settled into their role. Regularly recognise them for showcasing company values, behaviours and shine the spotlight on their special achievements!


6) Be open to embrace new ideas


Recruiting an apprentice in your organisation is a great way to get a fresh perspective on your processes, as there could be more efficient ways to do things. Make sure you encourage their new ways of thinking and approaches. It is important to make your apprentice feel very comfortable in questioning everything they and the team do, in order to maximise their creativity.


7) Network with other managers


Apprenticeships are constantly evolving and there is a lack of understanding in how they work. Moreover, programmes can vary in quality depending on training providers and courses.


Discuss your experiences with other managers in the same boat as you, including your wins, leadership styles and challenges in order to improve the experience for your apprentice and organisation. 

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