Trust – An essential element within apprenticeships.

We look into how the apprentice, employer and training provider need to work together to form a trust for an apprenticeship to work.

In the last few months, police investigations, government enquiries and whistle blowers have been bandied around the news regarding apprenticeships. This is due to the collapse of the biggest training provider in the UK. Aspire, Achieve, Advance (who were more commonly known as 3aaa). 3aaa were the largest training provider in the UK and in early October rumblings about an investigation emerged from the press. Not long after that the directors quit and then the provider went into administration amidst a police investigation. The fallout? 500 people lost their jobs and 4500 apprentices lost their apprenticeship placement although the ESFA are now working with other providers to place those learners elsewhere.

It was a monumental blow to the industry and when discussing the situation with some employers, the biggest thing at stake was trust. Trust has to be at the forefront of business: “I will pay you for this because I trust you to do it”. With learning, especially in apprenticeships, there is a lot of trust involved.

The learner trusts the employer that there is a genuine job within their company. Yes our employers want an apprentice to work hard, but there has to be feasible role for them to develop within, preferably with an aim for them to remain within the company. Of course they must also trust that the training provider has vetted the employer and will deliver them the training, support and assessments that will help them to achieve their apprenticeship.

In the same vein, employers must have confidence in the training provider. They must trust that they will develop their member of staff, and (if the provider does the recruitment) find someone suitable for their business. They will also, justifiably, expect to receive relevant support and guidance, especially if it is their first apprentice. Undoubtedly our employers also must trust that their apprentice is ready for a fulltime job, happy to work hard and do their best for their company.

As for us, as a training provider, we have to trust that the employer is wanting a future for their young person and potentially have a full time role available beyond the apprenticeship. Of course, we also have to believe that they will work with us to train, develop and support their new recruit within the work place.

Additionally, we have to have confidence in our learners and that they see the training/education side of an apprenticeship as a genuine way to develop: it is not just a standard full time job. We trust that they will turn up for all education sessions and will work hard both within their job and their training.

If everyone holds up their end of the bargain, then it works perfectly. So, what makes this happen? Well I feel it depends on three things:

Transparency: the apprenticeship is not perfect, but when it works it really works

  • It is not cheap labour, but having a person training within your company at a lower cost is, of course, an attractive offer to employers
  • It is not just a 90% free training course. The government does pay most of the funding, but the employer has to take an active part in their learning. We tailor the training to your company to ensure that as employer you are part of the process.
  • The employer has to take part in training the young person. This is about developing a part of your business with fresh talent. Not fixing a problem the cheapest way possible.

A plan for the future

  • Employers should not just be looking at this as a 12 month programme but should have some expectation that their apprentice could become a part of their business, and that they may want to hire more. An apprenticeship position should be seen as an opportunity to support business  growth, not a way to fix a problem that is already occurring.

Engagement in learning

  • The apprentice needs to be engaged and appreciate the learning. When hiring an apprentice, remember this is for the future of your business; you need someone who is hungry to learn.
  • The employer needs to value the learning and support and they should take every opportunity to get involved and plan for it. The employer needs to make sure the apprentice is supported and that they have planned time in the working week for developing their learning. This time will pay back hundredfold in the future.
  • The training provider needs to assist both the learner through their training, and the employer through their support. If the training provider does not involve you with the apprenticeship, then that is not right.

From this I return to the crux of this blog; trust. An apprenticeship is about three parties trusting each other to fulfil their responsibilities to the best of their abilities. With these things in place the apprenticeship will work for the learner who will forge a career in the industry, a business will grow and establish a channel for talent, and a training provider will get a client for a very long time.

If you are interested about an apprentice in your company then please get in touch.

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