How to make your apprentices part of your team long-term

Finding and training great apprentices is a rewarding yet challenging process – as an employer, it's great to be in a position to invite Apprentices to stay on as fully qualified members of staff, who are fully trained and ready to put their learning to full use.

Though the increased wages of your apprentices turned fully qualified tradies can sometimes be a bit over facing, in many ways by allowing them to move on, whether to a competitor or to set up their own business, you are missing out on a great staff member and a full return on your investment. As a great apprentice employer taking on fresh faces and teaching them the skills they need to succeed, you are contributing talent to the industry – so it's a shame to lose them before they come into their own.

So what can you do to retain your Apprentices and make them part of your team long-term?

Here are a few of our tips to do just that.

1. Make room on your team for newly qualified staff

To put it bluntly, if there is no room for more qualified people in your team – then you can't add great Apprentices.

You need space on your team to retain apprentices.Is there room on your team for a newly qualified Apprentice?

Taking on an Apprentice should be part of a long term business plan that takes into account team or company growth over time. When taking on Apprentices it's important to consider how they will become part of your comprehensive structure. Making sure you have the room to add new talent is essential to creating a competitive business that will continue to thrive.

2. Get them qualified

Great Apprentices come in all shapes and sizes. Some will fly through their units of competency with no trouble at all, others will need a little more help with the book work.

Regardless of the situation, becoming a qualified member of staff means that employees are able to take on responsibility for their own work. However competent they be, unqualified staff are not legally able to do this. The best members of your team are those who take responsibility for their own actions and seek to develop and progress.

Helping your young Apprentices over their first development hurdle will help you to cultivate a responsible team member who will become a great addition to your company culture.

Get your apprentices qualified.Are your Apprentices on route to get qualified?

3. Offer flexibility

Even your most loyal Apprentices can get itchy feet once qualified, especially in a market that is desperately looking for hard skills. It's down to you as an employer to retain your best hires and make it worth their while to stay with you.

The best way to do this is to look at what your employees want. According to CEB's 2017 Global Talent Monitor, work life balance is one of the key attractors to new companies. Flexibility is even more key for young people, with Bentley University's 'Millennials at Work' study finding that 77 percent of millennials believe that a flexible schedule would make them more productive.

While it can be difficult to provide flexibility in some industries, making an effort to incorporate arrangements that are attractive to the younger workforce will be appreciated and make you stand out.  

4. Make them part of a great culture

There is no better way to make your employees genuinely enjoy their work day than by embracing them into a tremendous work culture. Creating an open and trusting employee grounding where everyone feels valued and part of a shared mission is key to retention. Newly qualified Apprentices want to begin their career somewhere they feel like they belong and where they are supported. Providing this atmosphere will likely persuade many to continue on their professional journey with you. 

Work flexibility is important to young people.Flexibility at work is attractive to millennials.

5. Offer them a future

Your best apprentices are those who want to make a career for themselves and continue to grow once qualified. To make the most of their skills, your company will have to offer them experience and progression to match their ambitions.

Consider what career paths you can offer them, what promotions they can work towards and where can they expand their skill sets.You can even sit down with your Apprentices as they approach qualification and outline where you see their future moving forwards in your company.

6. Get the right people

At the end of the day you need to be hiring the right people in the first place to help your business develop and make the most of the investment you put into their learning. The best Apprentices are those who have the right skills and attitude for your company from the get go. But this is easier said than done.

If you're looking for help to hire great apprentices for your business, get in touch with the experts at MAS National. As an approved Apprentice Network Provider we provide recruitment and other services to apprentice employers free of charge.