Being Realistic With Your Expectations of Apprentices

HFE Tutor with student
Tutor with student

The second of our Top 5 Strategies for Apprenticeship Success on National Apprenticeship Week 2015 is dedicated to expectations, and why it is imperative for employers hiring apprentices to ensure that these expectations are set and managed effectively.
Generically speaking, the following equation sums up well how to determine a person’s level of satisfaction or happiness; this person could be a customer, employee, colleague, manager or business owner, it really doesn’t matter:

“Expectations – Experience = Satisfaction Level”

Put another way, when a customer, employee (including an apprentice), manager or colleague expects that they will receive something (which could be a product, support, a service, a course etc) in a certain way, and then for whatever reason they don’t at least get what they were expecting, it stands to reason that they are going to feel disappointed, frustrated and let down. Conversely however, when this person receives a product, service or level of support that surpasses their original expectations, they are clearly going to feel overjoyed and elated. This is the magic of added value!

Now that we know how to calculate the satisfaction level of a customer, colleague, employee or manager, let’s get back to apprenticeships!  As we’ve reinforced throughout this blog series, apprenticeships are a long-term investment that must be nurtured and managed effectively over a prolonged period of time. Even the shortest of apprenticeship programmes cannot be completed in less than 12 months – this is a requirement of the apprenticeship framework.

In our experience, too many employers expect their apprentices to be performing the duties of a fully qualified and experienced member of staff in only a number of weeks. This simply isn’t a realistic expectation and even the most accomplished of apprentices will take 2-3 months before they are ready to work independently in an instructing capacity. Most will take much longer!

It’s important that managers and business owners operating apprenticeships in the health and fitness industry are clear about what is and is not realistic for apprenticeships. These programmes must not be seen as a means of securing cheap labour, or accessing the £1500.00 AGE Grant that many SME’s receive for taking on apprentices. Mapping out the apprentice’s journey at the start of the programme, and working with the apprentice and the training provider to ensure that all of the essential training and assessments are delivered in-line with the businesses needs is probably the best way to achieve this objective.

Only when employers and apprentices are crystal clear about what they should each expect from the programme and role, will the true benefits of the apprenticeship scheme be fully realised. Employers must also take an active interest in the scheme and its content. Apprenticeship programmes are highly flexible and customisable to the individual needs of the apprentice and the specific needs of the business/employer. Employers are actively encouraged by the Government to take ownership of their programmes and invest in their apprentice beyond the standard Apprenticeship Framework. Many employers are fearful of this recommendation but they needn’t be. This additional investment doesn’t have to be financial; it can just as easily be more time, greater support, additional guidance and more frequent and structured ‘on the job’ training. There are a number of ways that employers can invest in apprentices without spending more cash.

Employers and apprentices that work with HFE on our apprenticeship programmes already receive free of charge additional ‘added value’ qualifications – these go beyond the standard apprenticeship framework and support the fact that we really do practice what we preach!

For more information about any of our apprenticeship programmes, please feel free to get in touch on 01772 641 091.

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