Providing a mentor for an apprentice can result in many benefits for your business. Hilary Mosedale, head of curriculum at HIT Training, offers some guidance
When it comes to apprentices in particular, mentors can have a big impact as they act as sounding boards and provide guidance to make sure apprentices have the resources and support they need to meet the requirements of their qualification.
Mentoring an apprentice can be demanding, as very often they are coming into their first job or a role in which they have little experience. Not having a mentor, or having an ineffective mentor-apprentice relationship, can potentially cause apprentices to lose their way and become disengaged, which could result in the failure of the apprenticeship programme or the apprentice leaving the business. When this happens, it has a wider knock-on effect to businesses, for example, by contributing to staff shortages and low staff morale.
Five tips to make sure your staff are equipped to be effective mentors
1Mentors should build a rapport with the apprentice It's important to create a good relationship with the apprentice in the early stages. The mentor could start by asking the mentee what they want to take away from the relationship, as well as listening to their concerns before offering advice and guidance.
Trust and accountability are equally as important. If the mentor says they will provide information or insight, they will find they have a much more effective relationship if they do so in a timely manner. The mentee will be more likely to commit to assignments and tasks if they have a role model who does the same.
The better the rapport, the easier mentors will find it to empathise and help with the personal, social and wellbeing challenges that some apprentices may face.
2Allow time for one-to-one sessions and check-ins The wider workplace needs to have an understanding of the mentor's role and be supportive when that person takes time out of their day-to-day job to work with the apprentice. Mentors not only need to reserve time for one-to-one meetings, but also to be present when the apprentice has a meeting with their training consultants, so they can be the eyes and ears and remind the apprentice about their tasks and assignments.
3The mentor-mentee relationship should work for everyone It is important the working relationship is effective for both the mentor and the mentee. To do this, meeting plans and agendas should be made collaboratively, and review meetings used to highlight any issues that need to be addressed.
4Communication is key New apprenticeship standards encourage apprentices to be engaged, proactive and in control of their own learning. The mentor doesn't just need to be an expert in their field; good communication skills are also important to help the apprentice take the lead in resolving problems and completing tasks. This doesn't mean that mentors can't offer advice, but rather they act as a supportive arm to apprentices and ensure they are progressing along their apprenticeship journey with the right resources and assistance.
5Make sure the mentor is prepared for their role and understand what's required It is important to provide training to mentors, so they have the skills required to guide junior members of the workforce through their careers effectively. Being prepared is part of the strategy process and is essential for ensuring the mentors have the correct understanding of their role from day one of the apprenticeship programme.
HIT Training is set to launch a new Management Academy and will be developing a UK-wide mentoring scheme in partnership with the Institute of Hospitality.
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