Getting the best from your apprentice or trainee
While there are minimum requirements for employers to support and supervise an Australian Apprentice, there are additional actions that businesses can take to get the most out of their apprentices and trainees.
The Role of Supervisors
The choice of supervisor is one factor that can make a big difference to the productivity of the apprentice or trainee. It is important to choose a supervisor who is skilled and experienced in the occupation, so they can train the apprentice or trainee. The supervisor will also need to:
- be able to work and communicate well with junior staff
- give constructive feedback in a way that is supportive and assists with learning
- and identify and manage any problems that occur.
Having Realistic Expectations
Working with young people or inexperienced staff members can be difficult. It is easy to forget what it felt like not knowing much about the role, or even about how to act in a workplace. The supervisor should set clear expectations, without assuming that the apprentice or trainee knows what should be happening.
A common complaint from supervisors is that young people don’t want to put in the effort to learn properly, spend too much time on their phones, or are more interested in activities outside work. Young people can be more impulsive, take more risks or they sometimes don’t think through the consequences of an action. These things can develop with more maturity and it can be useful having a meaningful conversation with the young person about the issue.
Taking the time to understand younger generations can help improve relationships at work. A good place to start is by taking a look at an employers guide to employing young workers from the Fair Work Ombudsman.
The supervisor or employer should make sure the apprentice or trainee understands they are valued by the business, and should demonstrate this. This can be done by recognising their progression, the tasks they are able to complete, and where they are helping other staff.
An employer can also get additional value from their apprentices and trainees by including them in staff activities, so they feel like they are part of the team. This can include inviting them to staff events, team meetings, or even other types of professional development sessions.