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  Posted by: electime      19th July 2021

Electrical contractors often find that apprenticeships can have many benefits for their firms. From a fresh perspective to an enthusiasm for the job and a commitment to learn, the best apprentices are able to bring plenty to the table. With the right approach, you will experience the rewards, both directly and indirectly from the contribution they make to your work targets, and the support you can offer them towards their long-term development.

Here, Dave Haywood, business manager at electrical wholesaler ERF, offers his advice on how to give your apprentices the greatest possible opportunities to grow and develop, whilst ensuring the experience is mutually beneficial.

Be friendly and welcoming

Managing an apprentice needn’t be like teaching a student. Both the business and the trainee will get more out of the process if you start things off on the right footing. So it’s well worth being friendly, welcoming and approachable from the outset. Take time to really get to know them on the job and also invite them along to other social activities outside of the working day.

If you can establish a rapport with your apprentice, you can then start to develop the level of mutual respect that you need to train them effectively. Engaging your mentee in the more formal aspects of the apprenticeship will be much easier if you have a positive working relationship and understand what makes them tick.

Create a progression plan

Of course, the different activities your apprentice will gain experience in will inevitably be dictated by the work you assign to them during their time with the business. Still, it’s worth dividing up the apprenticeship into rotation periods that focus on different key areas of the job. Providing the apprentice with a timeline for learning over the course of their training will give them a clear goal to work towards, as well as enabling them to track their progress over time.

It’s important to set targets for your apprentice to become competent in the tasks that they learn about by certain points in the apprenticeship. Importantly, the type of work that your trainee is learning about in theory, may not always match up with their experience on the job. As part of their progression plan, once you’ve covered something in theory, try to find a moment for them to put this into practice at some stage in the near future.

Give your apprentice responsibility

The typical approach to training an apprentice is to teach them about an electrical task like cutting out a chase: have them watch you do it in action, and then support them as they try to replicate it for themselves. When you’ve gone through this process with your mentee and feel confident in their skillset, give them the opportunity to carry out the task autonomously whilst you get on with other work.

Allowing your apprentice a degree of responsibility – even if only for one small part of the job – will give them the confidence they need to develop into a skilled electrician in their own right. Make sure that you’re around in the background should they run into any difficulty, but show them that you trust in their abilities. Getting the right balance between supporting an apprentice and letting them develop independently is a vital part of the process.

These tips should stand you in good stead when it comes to nurturing an apprentice in the electrical trade. By establishing a good rapport with your trainee, setting out a plan with targets to meet, and letting them have responsibility for certain tasks, they will learn surprising amounts about the trade (and give back to the business through their output). What’s more, getting the apprenticeship right will shape them into the kind of electrician you’ll want to hire in the future.