What is a workplace Mentor and what do they do?

Author // Lee Moorton Categories // Digital Technology Centre

With the new employer focused Apprenticeship standards one big culture shift taking place within many organisations in 2018 has been to fully understand the selection and requirements of internal workplace mentors for their apprentices.

In previous years the training of apprentices in the workplace usually involved a collaboration between the apprentices, an external training provider assessor and (usually) their line manager.

With this model national research showed that almost half of apprentices did not feel they had enough support from their employer, and similarly, about half of employers had concerns about providing enough to support their apprentices.

As a part of addressing this the new Apprenticeship Standards have been created with the employer and the chosen mentor taking the lead on workplace training. The Mentor is more likely to be a more experienced colleague at work, who will have time for training and supporting apprentices built into their own job role and work schedule.

Ideally the mentor should learn to understand the assessment criteria of the Apprenticeship Standard the apprentice is studying and be able to help the apprentice find opportunities for learning around these areas within their role at work. They should also support them to gather evidence and liaise with the externally selected training provider “coach” for the apprentice’s portfolio of assessment evidence.

So rather than being just a line manager or overseer, the mentor ideally is someone experienced in the team who is more focused towards, passing on workplace skills and supporting career development.

Organisations who want to invest in their people will recognise the importance of the mentor role within their organisations, and understand the importance of growing and training them so that apprentices of the future have a very clear awareness of who their mentor is in the organisation and what, when, where and how they can get support from them.

Top tips:

  • Choose mentors who have aptitude and passion for passing on skills
  • Don’t treat the mentor role as a burden dish out
  • Support time for mentors to work with apprentices as a part of their schedule
  • Train mentors to understand their role and the standards and the people they support

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