It is easy to forget that apprentices are not just employees or students – they are both.
Like all employees and students, apprentices need ongoing support to ensure their wellbeing needs are being met. It’s important that the training provider, the employer and the apprentice take a collective approach to ensure that happens.
The IfATE apprentice survey 2022 asked apprentices directly about how they felt during their apprenticeship.
Most apprentices agreed they found their workload manageable. Apprentices under 22 (75%) and apprentices employed by an SME (75%) were more likely to say they had a manageable workload.
When asked how they felt about their training provider and employer, 70% and 78% of apprentices respectively felt they were taking steps to support their wellbeing. Apprentices doing apprenticeships at levels 6 and 7 were less likely to feel their training provider took steps to support their wellbeing (57%).
Most apprentices felt as valued as other staff members (78%), that they had access to the same wellbeing support as other staff (92%) and that they would know who to contact if they had a welfare or wellbeing issue relating to their apprenticeship (87%).
Overall, the survey paints a positive picture of apprentice wellbeing. However, there are still some steps that can be taken to improve the experience further.
Here are ten simple steps that training providers and/or employers can take to create learning and working environments that support apprentice wellbeing.
Making sure that apprentice managers listen to the views of apprentice teams or co-workers and celebrate or share praise about the apprentice’s achievements and performance. For example, by:
Encouraging the apprentice to be part of communities that are important to them and giving them time and resources to grow. This could be in the form of:
Being made to feel part of the team is important. Building a sense of identity and belonging with a welcome pack can help break down initial barriers.
Giving the apprentice independence but also support to explore and grow their own ideas. This could be about offering opportunities to go on courses outside of the apprenticeship – and the time to do those courses within the working day.
Making sure the apprentice is involved or exposed to decision making – and giving them recognition for good ideas.
Making time to talk to the apprentice about wellbeing in a supportive and safe manner – and being available to them if they need to talk. Being patient and appreciating that each apprentice is learning at their own pace.
Making sure there is robust and comprehensive support available to address factors that may impact on an apprentice’s work and training. Apprentices may experience things at home, at work, or with their wider circle of family and friends that affect their ability to work and learn at different times during their training.
Having quality engagement with the apprentice, their team and training provider on their progress. Showing enthusiasm that they will succeed in their apprenticeship.
Creating a safe, honest and supportive relationship between the line manager and the apprentice. This could be in the form of structured monthly meetings or informal check-ins during the working week.
Signposting additional support, such as free counselling, advice or apps to help with wellbeing. These may be things offered by the training provider, employer or other organisations.
Giving talks to all staff on the importance of wellbeing. Having mental health first aiders within the organisation. Most importantly, making time to ask questions to see if the apprentice is okay.
Maintaining a good relationship between the apprentice and their line manager is vital. It encourages the apprentice to speak up when they are struggling either with their apprenticeship or in their personal lives. Below are some ways to improve that relationship.
There are more practical elements that can go a long way in providing assurance to the apprentice. For example:
Training providers should work with apprentice employers to ensure they have the ability – and, if necessary, the training – to recognise and support apprentice wellbeing or welfare concerns. That includes making employers aware of the training provider’s safeguarding team or safeguarding lead.
If potential issues are flagged early, relevant support can be put in place. In some organisations, that may include:
Apprentice line managers and trainers are also not exempt from low mood, stress or anxiety. The apprentice may recognise these signs in other people – so make sure they know where or how to raise any concerns.
Training providers should check in with apprentices to make sure they are getting the protected off-the-job training time, breaks and support they need.
Since apprentices are combining work, learning and their own private lives, employers and training providers should have regard to their preferences and needs and make reasonable adjustments to their approach.
Giving apprentices clear expectations and sufficient notice of deadlines or work requirements can also help them manage their work-life balance more effectively.
Line managers should gauge the apprentice’s home circumstances to ensure the support provided matches their requirements.
Employers and training providers should work closely together on all aspects of safeguarding, including:
Employers should tell apprentices about their safeguarding policy and how to report concerns and give support to the apprentice should they feel unable to successfully complete their apprenticeship.
If the apprentice indicates they need to take time off or leave for reasons related to welfare and wellbeing, they should be listened to, and supported. More guidance on breaks in learning is available on the GOV.UK website
If the apprentice has an issue with their employer, help should be given to try to find another employer. If an apprentice comes to the training provider with an issue related to mental health, support should be available; this should not impact negatively on the apprentice’s off-the-job training or assessments.
Reminders about wellbeing support should be available to an apprentice throughout their apprenticeship and career.
Some training providers and employers may run wellbeing events and workshops that are collaborative and encourage discussion.
For many apprentices, there is more to apprenticeships than the core learning outcomes. Those new to the workplace will particularly benefit from learning about wider life experiences. Employers and training providers may want to consider providing training on the following:
There is a lot of support available to apprentices. We have put together a list of resources to help you with your welfare and wellbeing. This list isn't exhaustive. We encourage you to look both locally and within your industry sector for more specific opportunities.
Just like college and university students, who have access to student-specific unions and societies, apprentices can tap into a range of opportunities to help maximise their apprenticeship experience.
Below is a short list of the kinds of things that are available.
As well as national awards, there are a number of industry or sector-specific awards. Your employer or training provider will know more about these.
You can also join your industry-specific trade union; your employer should be able to point you in the right direction.
Building networks is really important, whether you are the only apprentice in your company or part of a bigger cohort. It can help reduce isolation and often leads to lifelong friendships! Here are a few apprentice networks you might want to consider:
Your sector will have specific industry forums. These can be another way to feel part of a bigger cohort. Below are some examples of a few sectors:
There are many more opportunities available. Speak to your line manager or training provider for more information on the best forums for your sector. You can also search on the internet to find out more.
Last updated 24 Jan 2023