It is easy to forget that apprentices are not just employees or students – they are both, and on top of their personal lives.
Apprentices, like all employees and students, should be supported with their wellbeing and welfare throughout their apprenticeship and career. Therefore, it is crucial that a collective approach by the training provider, the employer and the apprentice should be taken to ensure their wellbeing needs are always met.
Apprentices are a unique group in both the workplace and college or university setting as they need to juggle work commitments while at the same time studying for a qualification. The pressure of a high workload puts apprentices wellbeing at risk of deterioration.
Before creating this guide, our apprentice panel carried out a survey to gather more information on the apprentices experiences with support for their wellbeing.
The following findings are taken from a sample of 82 apprentices:
An AoC survey of 132 FE colleges (37% of total) indicated that 75% felt there were significant numbers of learners with undisclosed mental health problems.
Further insights of the apprentice experience have been gained from another survey of 128 apprentices at a HEI:
For many, the stigma around mental health still stops apprentices reaching out to their training provider or their employer.
A good and thorough induction supported by a high-quality induction pack can help get the apprenticeship off to a good start and make the apprentice feel supported from the outset. You can find out more in our induction section.
Apprentices’ managers should listen to the views of the apprentices’ teams or co-workers and celebrate or share praise. For example:
Encourage the apprentice to be part of communities that are important to them and given time and resources to grow. This could be:
Being made to feel part of the team is important. Building a sense of identity with a welcome pack helps break the initial barriers down.
Giving the apprentice independence but also support to explore and grow their own ideas. This could be giving the apprentice chance to go on courses outside of their apprenticeship and the time to do those courses within the working day.
Making sure the apprentice is involved or exposed to decision making. Give them recognition for good ideas.
Having the time to talk to the apprentice about wellbeing in a supportive and safe manner. Making time for them if they need it. Also being patient with them and understanding they are learning at their own pace.
Ensuring there is robust comprehensive support for factors that may affect an apprentice’s work and training. They may experience things at home, at work, or with their wider circle of family and friends that may affect their ability to work and learn at different times during their training.
Having quality engagement with the apprentice, teams and training provider on their progress. Showing enthusiasm that they will succeed in their apprenticeship.
Having 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.
Whether provided by the training provider or the employer. Signposting to additional support such as free counselling, advice or apps to help with wellbeing.
Providing talks to all staff on the importance of wellbeing. Also having mental health first aiders within the organisation. Most importantly making time to ask questions to see if the apprentice is okay.
Having a good relationship between the apprentice and their line manager is vital. It encourages them speak up when they are struggling either with their apprenticeship or in their personal lives. Below are ways to improve that relationship.
There are more practical elements that can go a long way in providing assurance to the apprentice. For example:
The employer should be trained or assessed about their ability to recognise and support wellbeing or welfare concerns. They should also be made aware of the safeguarding team or leader at the training provider.
If potential issues are flagged early on, relevant support can be put in place. In some organisations, there are:
Line managers and trainers are also not exempt from low mood stress or anxiety and the apprentice may recognise these signs in other people and not know where or how to raise this.
Training providers should check in with the apprentice to see whether apprentices are getting the protected off the job training time, breaks and appropriate support.
For apprentices are combining work, learning and their own private lives, employers and training providers should have regard to their preferences and needs to make reasonable adaptations to their approach.
Providing the apprentice with clear expectations and giving sufficient notice of deadlines or work requires can help them plan their work life balance.
Line managers should gauge home circumstances of the apprentice to ensure their support matches the requirements of the apprentice.
Employers and training providers should work closely together on all aspects of safeguarding including:
Employers’ workplace should provide explanation of safeguarding policy, how to report concerns, and support to the apprentice should they feel they cannot successfully complete their apprenticeship.
If the apprentice indicates they need take time off or leave for reasons related to welfare and wellbeing, they should be listened too, and supported. You can find more guidance on breaks in learning on GOV.UK.
If there is an issue with their employer, there should be a facility made available to try and find another. If an apprentice comes to the training provider with an issue related to mental health, support should be available and cause no harm to their 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 more collaborative and encourage discussion.
There is more to apprenticeships than the core learning outcomes for many apprentices. Especially those new to the workplace will benefit from learning about wider life experiences. Employers and 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.
Apprenticeships provide opportunities for learning, networking and recognition. Like colleges and universities, whose students have access to student specific unions and societies, so do employers and apprentices.
Below is a small list of what opportunities are available to apprentices and employers. We suggest you look at it to maximise your apprentice experience. You may like to apply to as many as possible!
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 trade union as well, and your employer should be able to help point you in the right direction.
Building networks whether you are a sole apprentice or part of a bigger cohort is important in reducing isolation and making friends for life!
There may also be employer or training provider specific apprentice networks. Speak to your line manager or training provider to find out. You can also search on the internet to find out more.
NUS Apprentice Extra discount card
The NUS extra card helps stretch your hard-earned cash by providing high street discounts and access to exclusive events, all for just £11.00.