The Importance of Mentors
The support that comes from mentoring forms an essential part of the planning and delivery of an apprenticeship. Mentors are best placed to share experiences, inspire a higher level of work performance, instil enthusiasm and ultimately strengthen the learning structure for an apprentice. A mentor should act, not just as a teacher, but as a first port of call, a confidant and, sometimes, even a friend. Above all else, a mentor should be a person who wants what’s best for the apprentice and consistently works towards this. However, the real mix of roles required may mean that the umbrella role of “mentor” does not fit exactly to any one person within an organisation – whether that be employee or training provider.
Who Should Act as Mentor to an Apprentice?
Within the apprentice’s employment, the person most suited to act as a mentor may not necessarily be the apprentice’s direct line manager. Instead, there may be another member of staff who is able to share their experiences and encourage the formation of strong, positive behaviours. For example, the mentor may be an individual with vast experience, perhaps entering the later stages of their career, in a position where they can share and pass on the skills and knowledge gained throughout their working life.
That does not mean, however, that the apprentice’s line manager should not be involved in mentoring and managing that apprentice to some degree.
In many cases, no one person can entirely fill the role of mentor and it would actually do the apprentice themselves a disservice were an organisation to shoehorn an individual into that role. Sometimes, the more people that are involved in managing an apprentice the better.
This is especially true when an apprentice is tasked within their apprenticeship with acquiring a diverse and wide-ranging group of skills, for example when training as a tradesperson. From the employer’s perspective, this will likely involve moving the apprentice between a number of different company departments over the course of their apprenticeship, each of which likely warranting its own mentor to act as the best possible source of knowledge to help the apprentice learn. From the training provider’s perspective, this may mean that the apprentice is taught and mentored by multiple tutors over the course of their studies, with each one providing expertise in a different aspect of their chosen qualification.
The Importance of Management
The above, of course, only looks at the mentoring side of things. Mentoring plays a very important role in apprentice management, but there are other people who may need to be involved in the apprenticeship from a standpoint relating more exclusively to management, such as a member of HR personnel.
Furthermore, strong management that has undergone thorough and considered planning will provide structure and support to the apprentice and keep them on track throughout the course of their qualification.
When combined, effective mentoring and management can provide the apprentice with all the tools they need to thrive in their apprenticeship journey.
Here are just some of the people who you might want involved in an apprenticeship:
· Any tutor who teaches the apprentice during their journey.
· Any assessor who needs to mark work done by the apprentice.
· The apprentice’s line managers (there may be more than one of these).
· Their line manager’s line managers.
· The head of any department the apprentice is working in.
· The head of HR.
· The apprentice’s mentor(s) from another company (in the instance of flexi-job apprenticeships).
· Absolutely anyone who may be of benefit to the apprentice themselves.
The sad reality is that, when any one of these people is removed from the equation, the apprentice can miss out on an opportunity to learn, to develop confidence, or to feel supported.
There are a number of reasons that this may happen. A common barrier to entry that many organisations face is through their software; many apprenticeship management platforms charge per user and, when every one of the people listed above is represented by an additional cost to the organisation, this acts as a clear and obvious deterrent.
That’s where Rubitek comes in. At Rubitek, we advocate for the apprentice in any way we can, and this makes up a huge part of our core company values. For this reason, our apprenticeship management software does not charge per user. Instead, we charge per learner. This means that, within our software, one learner can be assigned as many mentors or managers as is necessary to benefit their journey, and at no extra cost to the organisation. This is just one way in which we support learners, whilst also providing a significant cost saving to our customers.
If you have any questions or would like to chat about any of the issues raised in this article, you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 0330 133 0540.