How to take on an apprentice and make it work

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When everything goes to plan, taking on an apprentice can help your building business grow and thrive. Yet training up a young, and most likely inexperienced employee can also present challenges.

According to General Manager at Apprenticeships Support Australia, James Moran, the following simple strategies can help ensure that taking on an apprentice turns out to be a rewarding decision for your business.

Plan from the outset

“Many businesses look to take on an apprentice because they are growing and have an immediate need, but it’s important to remember that an apprentice will need several months of experience before they can really add value to the business.”

“Look ahead, because your apprentice will need some time to understand what’s required of them, and to build skills through on-the-job experience and also time at their Registered Training Organisation (RTO).”

“In the beginning, there will be simple things that your apprentice can do, and as their skill level grows you can up the ante in terms of giving them more responsibility.”

Supervise and set clear expectations

“Supervision is really crucial,” says James. “You can’t delegate and abdicate. You need to be supporting and supervising, as well as coaching and mentoring your apprentice.”

“Giving constructive guidance and providing ongoing feedback will help your apprentice learn and improve.”

“Good communication is vital here, particularly around expectations. An apprentice can’t read your mind so it’s important to set clear expectations from the get go.”

“Some employers provide a document which outlines what they expect, for example what time you expect them to get to work, what they need to wear and bring, and how you want them to behave while they’re at work.”

Help your apprentice feel part of the team

“Take an interest in your apprentice and ensure they feel part of the team,” says James. “At the end of the day, it’s going to be beneficial for your business if your apprentice understands and feels part of your business culture and environment.”

Need more information?

The Fair Work Ombudsman offers a free, handy guide to taking on an apprentice, which is available here.

Apprenticeships Support Australia provides free support for Australian employers who are hiring and managing apprentices.