Proven Strategies for Training Apprentices
As every trades professional knows, an apprenticeship is one of the most pivotal components of a plumbing, HVAC, or electrical career. During this time, apprentices acquire the skills, experience, and knowledge to be able to add value to their team and help clients solve real problems. For each apprentice, it’s an undoubtedly life-changing experience.
For the journeyman or master who oversees their training, it can be slightly more tricky. Balancing the existing workload with checks and supervision of an apprentice can prove time-consuming. You want to give them the attention and support they need, but you also need to run the operation. How can you strike a balance and train your apprentice effectively? Here are our tips.
Find the Right Person
In many cases, you have a strong say in who you bring onto your team. Do your due diligence and only employ individuals who mesh with your team culture and whom you could see adding real value to your operation for years to come. Consider what your business will look like in several years, and choose the types of individuals who can further that vision.
Set Clear Expectations
Once your new teammate is onboard, be extremely clear about their behavior and skills expectations. Provide them explicit guidelines that govern their daily tasks so they have an accurate roadmap of what a great job looks like.
Build a Positive Relationship
Remember that the satisfaction you find in your work is largely influenced by the people by your side. For your apprentice, this truth exists as well. Do your best to be the type of friend and colleague you would wish to have. Ask about their family and personal interests where appropriate, and make them feel welcome on the team. A positive dynamic will go a long way towards smoothing over any work-related issues that may arise.
Be a Resource
As your apprentice learns, tries, fails, and tries again, provide ample support to their efforts. Extend a helping hand where it makes sense, but allow them to learn by doing wherever possible. Be willing and able to provide career and job-specific advice; know that you are their primary resource during this time, and they will be looking to you for guidance.
Create a Safe Work Environment
Never, ever ask your apprentice to do something that you would not feel safe doing yourself. It’s a legal requirement that your apprentice have all the necessary protective equipment and is fully briefed on the safety protocols of the job, so take that responsibility seriously. If a particular maneuver or technique is particularly dangerous, walk through it together or demonstrate it first. Safety is the number one concern in the plumbing, HVAC, and electrical trades, and that commitment is first imprinted on the mind of the apprentice.
Provide Valuable Feedback
You are not simply the apprentice’s chaperone: you are their shepherd. As you grow more comfortable working together, be vocal about which areas of their work need improvement, and where they show strength. Use positive reinforcement to encourage excellent work and further foster a collegial atmosphere. At the end of the apprenticeship, you may add a journeyman to your team, so it is your responsibility to train them thoroughly with intentional instruction to ensure they can add value.
Discover More Industry Insights from Explore The Trades
At Explore The Trades, we have built a national reputation of introducing the next generation of trades workers to the industry. If you are looking for your next apprentice, or simply want to connect with other trades professionals in your industry, we can facilitate. Get in touch, and let’s grow together.