Apprentices – Ahead of the game!

In my last post 10 ways to lose an apprentice cook in 10 days I promised to explore some of the ways that may help in managing and hopefully retaining apprentices.

This post will focus on Number 10 on the list – 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!

I might start by including a famous quote widely attributed to Albert Einstein about the definition of insanity.

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”.

This quote is pretty self explanatory, but does it apply to ‘how we train’ and ‘how we treat’ apprentices today? Have we changed our ways to adapt to the rapidly changing workplace environment or do we do what we have always done?

Let’s start with ‘how we train’.

There are basically two training and assessment delivery methods that are offered today. The traditional classroom based and the more recent workplace based. In the ‘good old days’ there was only one option being classroom based, which involved sending the apprentice off to TAFE once a week to undertake theory and practical studies. This delivery method, however, is fast becoming obsolete, as industry move more and more towards flexible work-based training (WBT) delivered by non-TAFE training providers.

WBT involves the majority of training and assessment occurring in a real workplace not in a classroom. WBT is a combination of Registered Training Organisation (RTO) guided theory-based learning and employer guided practical-based learning (on-the-job or off-the-job). WBT is competency-based training (CBT), which means learners can progress once they have demonstrated competency. CBT means learners progress at a pace that suits them. They are not held back when they are ahead or pushed forward when they are not ready to progress. WBT allows learners to find the most efficient and effective path to achieving a qualification.

The sequence, timing and delivery of units of competency (UOC) are at the discretion of each learner in consultation with their employers and the RTO. The flexibility of WBT allows learners the ability to structure and perform learning and assessment in a way that fits into their professional and personal life. There’s no waiting for the semester or term to commence as WBT allows enrolments to occur all year round.

WBT means every time a learner goes to work they are learning, demonstrating competence and in the same process working towards completing their qualification.

As a result of technological advancements there has been revolutionary changes in how WBT is delivered. For example, the use of go-pros, mobile phone cameras and other recording devices can capture very compelling evidence of the apprentice’s ability to demonstrate a skill. E-learning, social media and applications (Apps) can all work together to greatly improve the accessibility to current, credible and quality learning content for the apprentice.

The apprentice of today is extremely tech-savvy, change ready and programmed to find the most efficient and effective means of solving a problem. This invariably involves the use of technology. The pressure is now on industry and training providers to embrace the tech-culture embedded into the apprentice of today. There is no doubt, apprentices will continue to instinctively move and adapt to technological change, we must do the same. Outdated workplace practices or training and assessment methods just won’t ‘cut the mustard’ if we want to keep them engaged and focused on their studies and job at hand.

To put a long story short, sanity has prevailed (Phew, we are saved from Einstein’s curse!), change is now happening and it’s extremely positive. Employers are seeing the benefits of WBT and at the same time repairing their lost faith in the training and assessment of apprentices to meet the needs and demands of modern day workplaces.

On that note, I am going to finish. I have waffled on far too long and have still not addressed the ‘how we treat’ apprentices issue. I’ll save this for my next post.

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