I have been working with Apprentices and the organisations employing them since 2001. I have seen some Apprentices do fantastically well, for themselves and for their employers, but I’ve also seen Apprentices where it just hasn’t worked (for many reasons).  I’ve put together 5 steps to ensure both your organisation and your Apprentice gets the most from an Apprenticeship.


I should add that most of these steps assume that your Apprentice is a new employee. I would readily recommend Apprenticeships for more experienced candidates or as an effective means of developing existing employees as well; these steps are just as useful for them.


  1. Write a job description for the Apprentice role

Make it thorough and be clear which tasks are the ‘staples’ of the role, the ones the Apprentice really should be spending the bulk of their time on, and which tasks are the ‘occasional’ or ‘nice to haves’ that will take less of their time.  If you can build in some KPIs and reporting schedules, even better.

Why? Your training provider will need a robust job description to give you the best advice they can about the type and level of Apprenticeship that will be appropriate for the role.  Your future Apprentice will need to understand exactly what is expected of them.  But – ultimately – putting together a robust job description will help you establish if there really is a job to be done and if it is realistic to develop an Apprentice to do it.


  1. Make a list of all the things your Apprentice will need to know

I mean everything!  Not just the work-related knowledge requirements but the day-to-day stuff: staff parking, stationery orders, everything!

You might not want to unload the entire list on their first day (plan a more measured ‘induction process’ if you don’t have one already) but these will be complete unknowns to anyone new to your organisation and likely complete anathema for anyone who hasn’t been employed before.

It can help on this front to appoint a buddy or mentor (depending on how formal you want to play it); someone of a similar age who they don’t directly report to often works well.  Brief them on this list and get them to plan regular catch-ups with the Apprentice so they can start ticking these points of their list.


  1. Get to know your training provider and the requirements of the Apprenticeship you have signed up for

The more engaged you are with the process, the more straight-forward it will be for all parties.  I have first hand experience of an employer who (it turns out!) didn’t write a job description but wrote a ‘wish list’; whilst this may have been appropriately aspirational, the poor Apprentice (with the clock ticking on her Apprenticeship end date) was challenged to find opportunities to experience all the tasks on her employers wish list.  Had the employer understood the Apprenticeship process more thoroughly and engaged more frequently with his training provider, he would have understood quite what a challenge he was setting.


  1. Plan regular updates meetings with Apprentice

This leads on from the previous point.  As an employer, you will have committed to paying some money towards the Apprenticeship training and agreeing that your Apprentice will spend the equivalent of 20% of their working time learning towards the Apprenticeship.  Treat your Apprentice like the investment they are and take a meaningful interest in how they are getting on; if they aren’t getting the appropriate opportunities to gain the experience they need for their Apprenticeship and to do the job you have employed them to do, you need to know about that sooner rather than later.


  1. Think about what will happen next….

And start thinking about this as you’re writing the job description, NOT when the Apprentice presents you with their final Certificates!  From experience, the most motivated candidates will want to know where they could fit in to your organisation from day one.  This is not a sign of them being “too big for their boots” or trying to bite off more than they can chew, but a healthy sign of someone with a bit of ambition who is interested in building a career in your organisation.

Naturally, you will want to couch your answer in terms of “If you do well with your Apprenticeship…” but we all need a carrot and we all want to know that we are joining an organisation who is likely to value our contribution.