Making the most of an apprenticeship opportunity

Making the most of an apprenticeship opportunity

There is an awful lot of competition amongst those looking for employment after leaving school, college and university. Thankfully, apprenticeship numbers are increasing again after a relatively subdued period with an array of government grants and funding now available. The full value of apprenticeships are now being discussed in the open and while there are obvious pros and cons, making the most out of an apprenticeship opportunity could be life changing.

This is not simply a case of applying for a job, being thrown in at the deep end and left to sink or swim. An apprenticeship requires a significant investment of time and money from both the apprentice and the employer. We will now take a look at ways of making the most of an apprenticeship opportunity to carve out a long-term career.

Working from a blank canvas

When applying for an apprenticeship it is worthwhile remembering that while an employer will expect an element of passion and interest in the employment role, it is in effect a “starting from scratch” situation. The vast majority of apprentices have little in the way of relevant experience or qualifications and in many ways this should be seen as a “learning on the job” scenario. So, if you have a passion for a particular apprenticeship opportunity but perhaps lack the experience and qualifications, do not let that put you off. Many potential employers will welcome a genuine interest and passion in the subject, whether this is engineering, writing, a gym tutor or a website designer.

Apprenticeships Ideas

When attending an interview it is imperative that you put this passion across in a controlled but lively manner. Let them know you care, let them know you have a genuine interest and let them know that you are the one for their apprenticeship position!

There is no rush

When starting a new employment position everybody seems to be in a rush, they want to learn things as quickly as possible, prove their worth and operate at the sharp end of the job. When starting as an apprentice it is worth remembering that there is no rush to learn everything in the first few weeks and your apprenticeship is likely to last for a fixed period anyways. Take your time, gather your thoughts and enquire about issues you are not sure of and build on those in which you have some knowledge. In reality the first few weeks of an apprenticeship will likely be a watch and learn scenario, watching qualified colleagues carrying out certain tasks and learning not only how to do them but how they fit into the overall picture of the business.

If you are in a rush to learn everything, the likelihood is that you will miss some of the important details and end up with some general knowledge but nothing specific. Take your time and build up specific knowledge on a specific task and then move on to the next task. It is not a race!

Do your research

While no employer would expect a would-be apprentice to know everything about the job in hand they will expect some general knowledge about the industry, how it works and the role for which they have started their apprenticeship. It is therefore imperative that you do your research before applying for any apprenticeship so you know exactly what you are letting yourself in for. Do not forget, both the apprentice and the employer are setting out on a journey over which both will invest significant time and money into producing a skilled experienced future employee. If halfway down the line you decide this is not for you, even though you had researched the position, nobody can really complain. However, if you have not researched the role, have no idea what awaits you and end up simply wasting your time and an employers time and money, this will not look good on your CV.


Don’t be scared to ask for help

The role of an apprentice really means that you are expected to ask for help and assistance when required. The reality of learning a new role means that you are effectively starting from scratch and you should not be afraid to ask for help. There may be occasions where a fellow employee is busy, perhaps distracted with other things on their mind, but keep chipping away, keep asking for help when required and eventually it will sink in. The investment of time and effort works both ways, between the apprentice and those given the task of helping an apprentice. If you are unsure about any elements of the work, and you fail to ask for assistance, what happens when you make the inevitable mistake?

Listen and learn

The idea of listening and learning from those around you seems very obvious when taking on the role of an apprentice. This does not mean you cannot ask for assistance but it does mean that you should learn and listen to what your colleagues are telling you. If you keep asking the same question time and time again, are you really listening and learning? Do you really have an appetite for the particular role you have taken on? The rate at which we learn new tasks and new abilities will vary between individuals but before asking the question, listen and learn, if the question still remains unanswered then ask a colleague.

Finding a balance between confidence and arrogance

It is not just the world of employment where a balance between confidence and arrogance is required. It can prove challenging to assist somebody with little confidence in the early days and someone with an arrogant streak can be difficult to take under your wing. One piece of advice for those taking on an apprenticeship, the employer and the people around you have no idea about the “real you”. So in your private life you may be fairly shy, quiet and withdrawn but remember they do not know that. You are starting with a blank canvas, you can show confidence, but not arrogance, and give yourself a new lease of life. Even those who are fairly shy and withdrawn in the early days will likely find their feet fairly quickly in what can sometimes become a sink or swim situation for them. The constant appraisal of apprentices, feedback from colleagues and further education opportunities where applicable, will all decide whether you have a long-term career.

Apprenticeship confidence


Between the initial application for an apprentice role to the creation of a fully-fledged, experienced and highly valuable full-time employee, there are many issues to address. Nobody expects you to have the relevant qualifications and experience when applying for an apprenticeship as an apprenticeship is a way in which to give you the relevant qualifications and experience. What an employer will expect is someone who listens, learns and is not afraid to ask questions where relevant. They are looking for someone with a passion for the industry, a sense of purpose and a steely confidence, which does not stray over into arrogance.

This is obviously a heady mix of characteristics but remember when applying for an apprenticeship your future employer has no idea you may be shy and retiring. You are starting from a blank canvas, not only with regards to qualifications and experience but also your on-the-job personality, so make the most of it, get your head down, learn and listen and take in every bit of advice offered. There will be some pieces of advice which you discard, or do not fully recognise at the start, but enthusiasm to learn about the role will not go unnoticed by your employers. You have the chance to carve out a long-term career in your chosen field.



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