The added emphasis put on apprenticeship schemes by the Government and businesses in general over the last few years is certainly positive, but as with all ‘new’ things, the position and development of apprentices within their chosen businesses does pose some challenges. Luckily with the right assistance from HR many of these can be overcome easily enough.
Below are some of my personal experiences as to how HR smoothed the path into the corporate workplace for me; many of which I feel can provide a blueprint for other businesses (of all shapes and sizes) as they too, look to integrate new apprentices into existing structures in for 2016 and beyond.
Inductions: Provide your apprentices with a detailed, high level overview of your business and the sectors you and your clients work in. This provides apprentices with a great opportunity to meet, work and socialise with new-starters, colleagues and managers. It also offers them a chance to get involved in a series of challenges/team building exercises to enhance leadership skills & offers a platform to shine from the get go
New joiners manual: This is very useful as it provides all apprentices (and indeed grads/new starters in general) with essential information on company policy and structure. For example: instructions on how to download and gain access to network files while out of the office; instructions on how to use the expense tool, or even simply how to order a work laptop or phone
Mentoring: Being assigned an Early Professionals Manager (EPM) and Task Manager from the outset is really important for apprentices, especially as for many it’s –quite literally – their first foray into the workplace. It provides a professional role model, a point of support and given the right personality fit, can really help accelerate the development of an apprentice
Courses and networking opportunities: Continuing the learning process is very important for apprentices and business alike, so offering educational courses and secondments to other departments or even other international offices is important to maintaining motivation and developing skills.
Social and extra-curricular activities are important too. In my first few weeks I joined the IBM football team, and societies such as ‘Leading to Africa’ (a programme which focusses on investment in Africa) and the Foundation Technical Community. These types of more social activites help apprentices to settle in and leave them with a feeling that there is more to the company than simply the daily 9-5 role.
Chris Achiampong, IBM apprentice, chair of the board of trustees for the EY Foundation, & ambassador for the Government’s Get In Go Far campaign