By September 22, 2021 Read More →

Shaping the talent of apprentices and building towards the future

Apprentices have a substantial amount to offer you as an electrical contractor. The right candidate for an apprenticeship in the electrical trade will bring bags of enthusiasm and a commitment to learn, making them a real asset to the business. Budding electricians are also well-placed to observe your skills with fresh eyes and spot possible improvements in the process.

Here, Dave Haywood, business manager at electrical wholesaler ERF, shares his four top tips for nurturing the talent of apprentices and discusses the positive influence they can have on a business.

1) Create a welcoming environment for apprentices

Starting things off on the right foot is key when it comes to apprenticeships. Try to be friendly and welcoming from the outset. Realistically, you’ve agreed to an apprentice to be rewarded both on a personal and business level. But, it’s worth noting that you won’t get the best out of them unless you develop a decent relationship early on and attain a mutual level of respect.

Although you’ll be training your apprentice on the job, you don’t have to treat them like a pupil in a classroom. Get to know them as you work so that you understand what makes them tick. And don’t be afraid to build up a rapport with them – heading out for a pint after a day’s work could relax the situation quicker (but gauge this based on the individual first).

2) Set clear goals and targets

Once you’re on good terms with your apprentice, it’ll be much easier to engage them in the more formal side of the process. Set clear goals and targets for them to work towards at an early stage in the apprenticeship. You’ll know roughly how long the apprenticeship should last, so divide up the time into stages and aim to focus on a different area of electrical work during each stage.

Make sure that you’re on the same page regarding what you expect from your trainee in terms of progression. Whilst you’ll need to fit the training programme around the type of work your business has rolling at that time, it’s a good idea to give them a clear timeline of the tasks they’ll be focusing on and what you expect them to get out of each stage. In some cases, the jobs your apprentice is learning about and those they are supporting you with may not match up, but try to align their training and work where possible.

3) Monitor progress and provide constructive feedback

Particularly during busy periods of work, it can be tricky to find the time to monitor the progress of your apprentice and make sure that they’re hitting their targets as they learn about different parts of the job. If you can, try to set aside some time to check in with them each week. This could just be half an hour to run through the tasks your trainee has been learning about and how comfortable they feel with them at that point.

You might find that your apprentice struggles with some areas more than others. Be as patient and constructive as possible in the feedback you give them. Taking an overly critical approach at an early stage could put them off the apprenticeship and sour your relationship with them; ultimately, making it very difficult to support their progress going forward. When giving feedback it’s important to balance the negatives with positives and provide a clear idea of the specific steps that will help the trainee to improve for next time.

4) Give apprentices responsibility for individual tasks

Allowing your apprentice some autonomy will aid their development no end. Once you’ve taught them to cut a chase in a wall and you’re satisfied that they can manage it under your supervision, let them have a go themselves whilst you focus on other jobs. Provided you’re on hand to assist if needed, your apprentice will grow drastically in confidence.

If you decide to take on your trainee full-time, you’ll have a much better electrician to work alongside once they’ve had the chance to complete a range of tasks on their own. The goal is to strike a balance between providing your apprentice with the support they need whilst giving them their own responsibilities on the job.

Taking on an apprentice can be a rewarding experience both for them and your firm. With the right approach, you can ensure that the business gets the best work out of your trainee whilst supporting their development and turning them into someone you’d like to hire at the end of the apprenticeship.

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