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The importance of a mentor for apprentices

Regardless of whether your apprentice is starting their journey in a new career or taking on added responsibilities after having perfected their craft for a while, working towards a qualification alongside work can be daunting. They may be feeling a little lost, looking for that guiding light or push in the right direction – that’s where you, their line manager, comes in.

You’ll be the person they look to for support, guidance, and to be their mentor – helping them navigate the world of work and learning. But what is a mentor? What’s expected of you? And how does it apply to the relationship between a line manager and an apprentice? 

We’ll show you just how to become the mentor you wish you’d had when you first started out in your career!

What is mentoring?

In the workplace, mentoring is about using your own experience and skill set to help a more junior colleague to maximise their own potential.

Each mentoring relationship is unique, however you’ll typically work towards a set of core objectives. You’ll help your mentee to grow in confidence, learn new skills and provide key support enabling them to take control of their own personal development.
As a mentor, you may need to take on a variety of different roles, from coach, to facilitator, to counsellor. You’ll act as a sounding board, asking challenging questions to help your mentee to identify the best course of action for the task at hand. You’ll be a source of inspiration and help your mentee to carve a pathway to achieve their own professional aspirations.

Overall, you’ll be a main source of guidance – helping your mentee to find their way in the world of work. But at the end of the day, the responsibility for making ‘things happen’ will lie with the mentee – you’re only there to guide.

How does mentoring support an apprentice?

Mentoring relationships are important to many apprentices as they’re often starting out in a new career or industry and will benefit from the passing on of skills and receiving practical advice from a more experienced colleague.

Mentoring is a supportive process without a strict set of rules to follow. Your apprentice should feel comfortable discussing anything with you – including personal issues that may impact their wellbeing or ability to perform well at work.

By providing this level of all-encompassing support, it will reduce the likelihood of your apprentice feeling overwhelmed or dropping out of their programme and enable you to put measures in place to give them the best chance of success.

It’s also a two-way street! Not only does your apprentice learn from your knowledge and experience, but they could offer up fresh insight to your ways of working, helping make improvements to your own practices.

As their line manager, you’ll likely be best placed to provide mentoring support as you’ll supervise their day-to-day activities, provide on the job training and coach them in their role. This gives you a fantastic opportunity to build mentoring into your daily management responsibilities and even set aside time each week to focus purely on your mentoring relationship.

How to successfully mentor and apprentice

Aimed at line managers of apprentices, EDN’s e-guide, ‘Line Manager’s Toolkit to Mentor an Apprentice’ will bridge the communication gap between line managers, apprentices and training providers.

We’ll walk you through the roles and responsibilities of those involved in the learner journey, tackle common misconceptions about apprenticeships and share how line managers can best support their apprentices.

You’ll learn about the key role a line manager plays in helping their apprentice to develop with a crash course in how to be a great mentor.