Taking on an apprentice is a great opportunity for your business, and a chance to invest in the skills you’ll need for the future.

But recruiting the right person is just the first step – how do you ensure you get the most out of your apprenticeship investment? We’ve put together our top tips on how to keep your apprentice engaged and deliver maximum value to your business.

1. Choose the right training provider

Training is key to getting the most out of your apprentice. But don’t worry about shouldering the responsibility of training on your own. Working in partnership with the right training provider can help to ensure the programme you choose delivers the knowledge, skills and behaviours your apprentice needs to thrive.

There are many training providers currently listed in the UK, so finding the one that best suits your business can be difficult. For help on narrowing down the selection, read our top tips on choosing the right training provider for you.

2. Create a supportive and welcoming environment

First day nerves are usual when starting a new job but are often worse for apprentices who aren’t used to the workplace. Leaving education or unemployment behind can be intimidating, so make sure your apprentice is joining a supportive and welcoming environment. This plays to your advantage as an employer too however, as your apprentice will settle into their role easily and will be able to take on their responsibilities sooner.

The same can be said if your apprentice is used to the workplace or is already a member of your workforce. A supportive and welcoming environment can make the transition from external companies or other teams less challenging and will help the apprentice settle into their new role more quickly.

3. Set clear objectives

As part of the apprenticeship programme, you’ll want to set clear objectives and expectations for the role. By agreeing these with your apprentice, you’re giving them an end goal to work towards and at the same time bringing value back into your business. The more progress your apprentice makes towards their goals, the greater the benefits to your business. But remember to be clear and reasonable when setting objectives – your apprentice may be new to the workplace and expecting too much, too soon could adversely impact their confidence and the progress they make.

4. Introduce a ‘buddy’ or mentor scheme

To help your apprentice get to grips with their role, you’ll want to consider introducing a ‘work buddy’ or mentor scheme. By using either scheme, you’re providing your apprentice with an opportunity to develop professionally. Having access to an experienced role model who can provide sound advice, networking opportunities, new ideas and more will transform your apprentice into a more valuable member of your workforce.

5. Be a good communicator

Communication really is king and communicating with your apprentice is no exception. Make sure to take the time to speak with your apprentice on a regular basis and check in on their progress. It’s a great time to address any issues they might be facing in their role and for you to gain an outside opinion on aspects of the business. But how it benefits you most as an employer is as a tool for motivation and encouragement. By showing that you’re willing to listen to your apprentice, you’re encouraging them to feel loyal towards your business and motivated in their role.

 6. Open up opportunities

An apprenticeship programme should provide plenty of opportunities for an individual to develop their skills and gain an insight into their role and the business they work for. Try to provide your apprentice with as many opportunities for professional development as possible. Link with other departments to give your apprentice an overview of different business functions or get them involved with external training opportunities and industry events. Remember, your apprentice is an investment in your business. And by developing them, you’re maximising the potential return on investment

7. Track their progress

An important part of employing an apprentice is tracking their progress within their role. This means monitoring and considering their skills, knowledge and ambition from their start date. Good development and progress are an indicator that value is being returned to your business, whereas bad development and progress means less, or no value, is being returned. At this point you’ll want to start offering advice to improve their performance or provide additional training as required.

8. Retain and develop top talent

Employing your apprentice doesn’t have to be just for the duration of the apprenticeship. At the end of their programme, both you and your apprentice should have a good understanding of their strengths, their skills and their ambitions for developing their career. If you believe they’re adding value to your business, you should offer them the chance to join your organisation and continue to develop.