But who are the people behind the scenes who help our apprentices commit to the opportunity an apprenticeship provides, supporting them to achieve assignment deadlines and guiding their learning?
They are our exceptional apprenticeship tutors - highly qualified and experienced individuals who are committed to continuous professional development (CPD) and work closely with employers to ensure their apprentices achieve success in their programme.
Here we focus on a day in the life of one of our expert tutors, Debbie Sleightholm, and find out how she supports her apprentices through their learner journey.
The role of an apprenticeship tutor
“When I start my week as an apprenticeship tutor with Reed Learning I know that whatever day it is, it’s going to be busy and varied!
I support level 3 and level 5 HR apprentices who range in age and experience and come from a mix of large and small private, public and voluntary organisations.
I work with apprentices from the NHS, from John Lewis Partnership and Currys along with others from smaller businesses such as housing associations.
My level 3 apprentices are either those who already work in an entry HR position or have an administrative role and want to develop their knowledge and skills in their chosen profession.
Level 5 apprentices are more experienced and want to take their career to the next stage.
The benefit for the apprentices of being part of such a diverse group is that they get that breadth of experience through networking which is a real bonus.
When they get together for our online webinars, they are able to network with each other and build their knowledge about the wider HR function while learning about organisations in different sectors.
An HR apprenticeship is not just about becoming CIPD qualified.
It provides the opportunity for apprentices to develop their HR knowledge and skills which they apply directly to their working life.
The theory they gain through their CIPD qualification is embedded into their everyday role.
They can use the knowledge gained from an employment law module, for example, to demonstrate how they tackle a grievance and disciplinary procedure.
For employers, apprenticeships add value to the organisation through improved retention and progression – effectively growing your own talent.
For individuals, apprenticeships provide that career pathway in the people profession.
What does an average day look like?
An average day could start with a half day level 3 online workshop where apprentices learn about business culture and change to prepare their assignment.
I have already done my planning and preparation so I’m ready to begin.
The cohort has already bonded, and they learn from each other as well as me, working together on different activities in breakout rooms.
We use collaborative jamboards so they can research and talk to each other about the challenges and the external factors affecting their organisations.
The webinars are great for building their confidence and helping them to gain new skills.
After the webinar I have a 1:1 with one of the apprentices who is dyslexic to ensure that everything has been understood or if something needs to be clarified.
Apprenticeships are very helpful for people with a specific learning need as they provide extra time for explanation and can be tailored to the individual.
Progress reviews and 1:1s
The afternoon might start with a 1:1 with a level 5 apprentice which happens every four weeks.
We open up Onefile, the software that tracks their learning journey online, and map any gaps against the apprenticeship standards.
We discuss their current work, any challenges they face with their assignments and review their learning journal.
This session is followed by a progress review with a level 3 apprentice and their line manager.
These happen every 12 weeks and provide an opportunity to review progress against both the apprenticeship standards and their CIPD qualification.
All HR apprenticeships include a CIPD professional qualification which apprentices really value and is an integral part of the programme.
We also discuss how the apprentice has demonstrated new knowledge and skills application in the workplace and highlight any new development opportunities that may arise in the coming weeks.
We finish with planning next steps and a timeline for the apprentice to follow for the next three months.
I might finish the day off with marking some level 3 or level 5 HR assignments and preparing for a cohort tutorial the following week.
I also support CIPD students with their qualification so there’s always lots to do!
Keeping motivation high
Keeping apprentices motivated is important.
Working in a group helps but also having that personal support from an experienced tutor who understands what they are going through is key.
An apprentice could be someone returning to study after many years out of education or a person with no HR experience.
Either way, they will be juggling their learning with work and personal commitments.
It’s important for me to know about their organisation so I ask all my apprentices to complete a template on the understanding of their business right at the start of their programme.
It’s how I find out about their organisation so I can relate to when they are under pressure in peak times at work.
Having that empathy helps them to keep on track.
With 30 years’ experience as an HR manager with Tesco and positions in local government and education before I joined Reed Learning, there’s not much I haven’t seen in the people profession!
As a result, I use examples from my own career to turn theory into practice which helps them gain that wider understanding.
The HR role at level 3 or level 5 is essentially the same in every organisation.
Your skills are transferrable, its just understanding different systems and ways of working.
The examples help to bring the theory to life.
I do enjoy my work as an apprenticeship tutor.
There’s a glow of satisfaction when I receive those thank you emails from apprentices saying they couldn’t have done it without me or seeing that lightbulb moment when some HR theory clicks into place for them in their role.
It’s rewarding being able to support others to achieve their dreams.
Debbie’s top tips
Get to know the apprenticeship standards. Print them out and have them next to your laptop.
When you learn a new skill, jot it down straight away.
Have a wider understanding of your organisation rather than thinking I’m in payroll so I don’t need to know what’s going on around me.
Update your learning journal once a week.
Have regular 1:1s with your manager and look at new opportunities to demonstrate your skills.
Are you interested in an HR or L&D apprenticeship?
We offer three apprenticeship levels in HR and L&D so there is a programme for everyone whether you are new to the industry or are an experienced HR or L&D.
Apprenticeships not only develop people, they bring new skills to a business.
Find out more and contact us today on 020 7932 2760. Our specialist advisers can answer any questions you have and can talk to you about future cohort start dates.