Last year, the government recorded 123,000 apprentices starting work in the Health, Public Services and Care sector. And, whilst working in a childcare environment is an ideal job for many, some apprentices do not progress as well as they hoped in a setting and end up dropping out.
The reasons for this can be varied, but for some the long hours and exhausting days are not what they had expected. For others, a perceived lack of support from their setting may have contributed to them deciding not to continue with their apprenticeship.
For anyone who has already completed a childcare apprenticeship, working and gaining qualifications simultaneously is no easy task. It takes dedication, hard work and the right support to be able to successfully complete an apprenticeship in any industry and childcare is no different.
In order to help maintain continuity of care for the children at your setting, it is also beneficial to have an apprentice who stays dedicated to working for your nursery in the long term. So, how can you support a new apprentice to give them the highest chance of success?
1) Let them pass a trial period
It can take a while to settle on the right apprentice, so giving any candidates a week long trial period to find out if they are a good fit for working at your setting is advised. For young apprentices especially, they will appreciate your support in helping them find the career that is right for them and a temporary trial is a good way to give them this choice.
2) Find a mentor for your apprentice
If anyone is in a good position to give advice on how to navigate a successful path through a childcare apprenticeship, it’s a former apprentice. These team members make good mentors as they can relate to what the apprentice is going through and provide support. The advice they are able to provide to new apprentices is invaluable, especially when they are finding things tough.
3) Outline a structured progression route
When your apprentice joins, make a plan together about how they can progress their professional career. As eager learners, a good apprentice will want to advance through the ranks from Level 3 even to Foundation Degree level. With time, they could even be the room leaders and nursery managers of tomorrow!
4) Give regular feedback
Schedule regular meetings with your apprentice to find out how they’re doing and use this time to give them feedback on how well they’re progressing. Having these meetings allows you to review any objectives and goals you have set for the apprentice to make sure they’re on the right track.
5) Let parents know
Parents can be surprisingly supportive once you let them know that an apprentice has started at your setting. Reassure them that the new apprentice is being supervised at all times whilst they gain their qualification and that their patience is appreciated whilst they become familiar with how things are done. Having positive interactions with parents will help the apprentice settle in much quicker and form lasting connections, which also advantages the children.
Supporting a new apprentice to become a confident and capable childcare practitioner could be one the most rewarding things you ever do. The benefits they pass onto the children they care for, through their own unique blend of enthusiasm and commitment, makes an apprentice a valuable addition to any setting.