Apprentices - your experience

HI All,


I was just wondering what people's experiences of employing apprentices is - generally positve or not?


I have recruited a few in my own workplace and we've seen a few more come and go over the years. I have found it equally rewarding and challenging in the past. You have to put quite a lot in, particularly in the beginning but as they grow in competence and confidence it gets easier. 

Of late, I find I'm putting so much in for such little return I got to wondering what the actual completion rates for apprenticeships are? Does every business get frustrated at times, are some types of apprenticeship easier than others? I am finding distance learning Business Admin a real challenge at the moment and am just looking for the light at the end of the tunnel!

Does anyone have any heartening stories to tell? Or should I give up now!! 

  • Hannah

    | 11 Posts

    Chartered Member

    2 Jun, 2015 13:37

    Hi Emma,

    We employ a number of technical apprentices, in the fields of Project Management, Quantity Surveying, Engineering, etc. Overall I've had fantastic feedback from the vast majority , and many of them are now progressing to further education and more senior roles. We have had a few drop out part way through, but that was more due to our recruitment practices than anything else.

    Having said that, we also have a some 'regular' apprentices across the business - by which I mean administrative, finance etc. - who have not had such positive feedback. In these areas, we've had a much better experience employing school leavers and putting them through day release at University, or employing current students and funding the rest of their studies.

  • Hi Emma,

    Whenever we need an apprentice I tell the Departmental head to take on two people! 

    As you say the drop out rates can be higher than normal, as these individuals frequently are not used to working life and / or if it is their first role they are not really sure what they want to do as a career.  You also have to put a lot in to them in terms of training (technical) and training (support) as they develop. 

    For those that make it they are frequently great employees who are loyal and only know the way that you have shown them so no bed habits (hopefully).  However, an apprentice is not a cheap, short term or easy solution.  They are an investment - some go up in value while others don't!

    Stick with them, but don't take on more than you have the time or energy to invest in.

    Mark B 

  • Ellie

    | 57 Posts


    2 Jun, 2015 15:26

    Hi Emma,

    Having been an apprentice myself I thought it would be useful to add my two cents.

    It's a very odd thing to go from working in a supermarket for 7 hours a week to working full time in an office job. The environment, people and expectations are a whole new world and school in no way prepares you for this. (I by no means am saying 'woe is me!' - it's just a big learning curve to overcome!)

    I remember feeling quite useless at the start, really having no idea about how things work or who to ask. I would say for the first 3 or so months I struggled - but with the guidance of a strong line manager I adjusted and felt that I could prove my worth. My IT skills were particularly strong and I managed to streamline a lot of processes in the office very quickly once I'd been through them a few times.

    There are times where you feel stupid and are afraid to ask, or when people assume you would know something and you honestly don't, so I think it's really important to make sure there's a culture of 'no question is too stupid'.

    Now two years on from when my company employed me as an apprentice for 3 years, I was promoted after 8 months to the substantive role and then promoted again last year, now in a permanent HR role. So it does get better! The key things for me were working in a supportive environment with a strong mentor.

    Apprentices are keen to learn by their very nature, they've chosen to be in a learning role after all. They need to be taught very early on about office expectations as they really have no idea e.g. language use, phone etiquette, is mobile phone use acceptable, and then the groundwork has been set.  

    The best and worst thing about apprentices in my opinion is that they are a blank canvas. Your huge advantage is that you can shape and mould them to work how you want but they are also intuitive and can bring fresh ideas to your company.

    I hope this is helpful!

  • Thanks for the input guys. I guess I will keep on keeping on with this one!

    Just a little frustrating when 3 months in the apprentice thinks filing holiday forms means putting them in a pile on the desk because they didn't realise they needed to be filled IN something! 

    Deep breaths :-) 

  • Ellie

    | 57 Posts


    3 Jun, 2015 11:06

    Hi Emma,

     It can certainly be frustrating but you do need to be explicit with them, I remember being handed my first pile of filing and just placing the paper in the file (rather than putting it though the punched holes - doh!) because I genuinely had never filed before.

    Don't assume anything!


    Ellie :)

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