Managing apprentices takes empathy and bravery

I’ve managed a few people in my career so far – two of which have been apprentices here at the Group.

I think most people wrestle with how well they are doing as a manager – am I being too demanding, too soft? Are my expectations too high, not high enough? Am I communicating enough, not enough? And I am certainly no different. But managing a younger apprentice seems to take a little more thought and empathy but crucially, it gives a lot more back.

The world of school is not one that necessarily prepares a young person for the world of work. From understanding how to accept an Outlook meeting invite to knowing what revenues, costs and profit are – it’s quite a change. A ‘fresh out of school’ apprentice is used to being with peers where the only adult in the room is the teacher. They more than likely have never stepped foot in an office before, let alone been managed. And their ability to think creatively or problem solve has not really been explored as most of their learning is regurgitated from a text book or the internet.

With this in mind it makes you realise how exceptionally brave a young apprentice has to be. Especially as most of them will have made a different choice to their peers who are off at university, I have seen that bravery pay off in a myriad of ways.

It makes me mindful of the privilege and responsibility you have as a manager to help them adjust, develop and discover their strengths. You are part of the first step in their career. You can challenge their thinking, expand their experiences and help to shape their working style. You also get to see first-hand how important on-the-job learning is, as their qualification largely depends on it!

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Within six months, my apprentices were up and running and starting to recognise their strengths and how to use them in a work context. It’s not just a lovely feeling to see someone change and grow in confidence and competency but it’s also a relief as they take on, deliver and contribute more at work. And let’s be honest that’s the reason you hired them in the first place!

The development I’ve seen in my apprentices has been amazing – and it has been a privilege to be a part of their story. They have both now gone on to the second step of their careers and into full-time employment. The investment of time and empathy - as well as their bravery – has definitely paid off.

If you are considering an apprenticeship, check out our careers website for the latest vacancies.

For more information about apprenticeship programmes that the Group offers, see more about City & Guilds' apprenticeships and ILM's management apprenticeships.

Emma Nicholls - Head of Engagement

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Emma started her career in HR as a generalist, and moved into communications when she joined the City & Guilds Group in 2013. Emma now works as Head of Employee Engagement for the Group, working on a variety of brand, engagement and strategic projects and oversees the Group's internal communication channels.