10 ways to lose an apprentice cook in 10 days

By Mark Field

Have you ever asked yourself the question “what’s wrong with apprentices today?” or “why can’t I keep an apprentice?” It’s easy to lay blame on apprentices but are they entirely at fault? Let’s look at some of the workplace factors that may cause performance issues and lead to an apprentice ‘flying the chicken coop’ before they complete.

Number 10. Let’s train and treat apprentices exactly the same as industry has always done. The school of hard knocks worked in the good old days, so it should work now!

Number 9. Playing practical jokes on apprentices. This activity is unacceptable in modern times and although the intention may be for ‘character building’ or ‘team bonding’ it can be very counterproductive with the potential to cause psychological harm.

Number 8. The best way to introduce an apprentice to the workplace (and industry) is to have them ‘demonstrate their commitment’ and ‘do the time’ scrubbing dishes, floors and any other crappy job available.

Number 7. Thinking the apparent lack of motivation and desire to succeed displayed by the apprentice is not in anyway related to the workplace culture.

Number 6. A workplace culture that embraces the ‘sink or swim’ approach to learning and development.

Number 5. Employers are not responsible for training apprentices. That’s the job of the education provider i.e Registered Training Organisation.

Number 4. Not knowing what subject the apprentice is currently studying and not seeing any relevance or importance in caring.

Number 3. No instruction or guidance is given to the other qualified cooks in the kitchen on what their roles and responsibilities are when an apprentice has been employed and made part of the team.

Number 2. Being too busy to worry about the ‘wellbeing’ of the apprentice. The workplace is for work not for therapy.

Number 1. The louder you shout at an apprentice, the better they will respond.

As obvious and comical as some of the points sound, it still continues to happen in various forms. Times have changed and so have the candidates that are employed. Gen Y and the Millennials are a new beast and if we want to build the cooks and chefs of tomorrow we need to get better at managing them now. We need to look at new ways of creating workplaces that are conducive to learning, development and quality outcomes.

Stay tuned, because I will counter this post in the coming days. It’s part of a series of posts to explore some of the ways that may help in managing and hopefully retaining your apprentice.