Benefits & top tips for mentoring during & post-pandemic

female mentors and role models

Article provided by Angela Love, director at Active Workplace Solutions

In the midst of the most unprecedented of years, Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s summer statement outlined a £2 billion scheme designed to boost the economy by creating jobs for young people.

It included a three-point plan with support to help pay for six-month placements for young people potentially facing long-term unemployment. Our young people have suffered this year. Their career development, social interactions, learning and training have all been put on hold. As business leaders, we have a responsibility to uncover their potential, help to develop their skills and deliver post-pandemic opportunities.

While historically linked to construction, most industries now offer some form of apprenticeship scheme. They provide real jobs, with real training which mean employees can ‘earn while they learn’ and build the skills and professional competencies they will need in their chosen career.

Successfully training and developing skills in a new apprentice often comes down to them being paired with the right mentor. The whole process is focused on a willingness to teach and learn and enthusiasm for the sector.  Both parties should understand that employment is as much an educational program as it is a working job. For the mentor, it requires a level of commitment in terms of time, patience and, importantly, the ability to listen and lead.

The workplace today has changed considerably – remote working, new technologies, virtual collaboration – they are new skills that we’re all learning. These challenges offer new opportunities as well though. A young apprentice will have much to learn from a mature team member, but now, more than ever, there is plenty that a senior team member can learn from their younger peer. Both will enjoy enhanced job satisfaction as a result. Similarly, a self-motivated rising star taking an apprentice under their wing offers insight into paths available to the apprentice in terms of who they could become, as well as providing the mentor valuable leadership and management skills.

At Active, we’ve enjoyed many successes with apprentices. When our marketing coordinator, Jennie Armley, joined the team as an apprentice in 2015, we immediately looked to ensure she felt valued and part of our business. I personally mentored Jennie, helping her break new ground and work with freedom. After completing her two-year apprenticeship at Active, we supported Jennie for a further year at college to allow her to complete her CIM Level 4 in Professional Marketing. She is a leading example that with the right attitude and work ethic, apprentices can reap the rewards alongside those who have chosen a more traditional university route into employment.

Our success with mentoring is down to four very key factors:

  • Communicate – making time to communicate with a new team member is the key to a successful mentoring relationship. It builds trust, helps to set clear goals, allows for open and supportive feedback and ensures that both parties can work collaboratively to solve problems.
  • Making recruits feel at ease – having a work mentor who can be on hand to answer any questions and make new recruits feel comfortable helps boost their confidence. It’s beneficial to encourage other members of staff to join in as well, to make the newcomer feel as welcome as possible.
  • View your apprentice as part of the business’ future – having a successful apprentice develop through the company is a great driver for future employees. They become a role model to future apprentices as well as a valuable resource to existing employees. A fresh set of eyes looking at something with passion and eagerness to impress can only bring positives.
  • Encourage ongoing learning – skills development shouldn’t stop once an apprentice has learned the basics of their role. It’s important to encourage the learning of additional skills, training and qualifications so they reach maximum potential.

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