There are some common misconceptions when it comes to apprenticeships. People often think of them as an option for 16-year-olds fresh out of high school. However, apprenticeships can actually offer many benefits to people at any stage of their career.
They can teach new skills, provide opportunities to take on more responsibilities and ultimately, help people become better at their jobs.
For some businesses, mentorships might usually be the preferred option. Or, you might be stuck between deciding which is the best route for you and your employees. This article will look at both apprenticeships and mentorships, outlining the pros and cons of each. Read on to find out more.
- What Are Apprenticeships?
- What Are the Pros and Cons of Apprenticeships?
- What Are Mentorships?
- What Are the Pros and Cons of Mentorships?
WHAT ARE APPRENTICESHIPS?
Apprenticeships are offered at many levels and usually involve working with an external training provider. Let’s take a marketing apprenticeship, for example.
Your business will most probably have a marketing team with people at different stages of their careers. You might have a marketing executive who’s been in the industry for two years and a marketing manager who’s been around the block.
An apprenticeship is a learning and development scheme that can be catered to either of these people. For the marketing executive, you may look to enrol them in an apprenticeship that aims to teach them about the necessary skills and knowledge they need to eventually move into a marketing manager role.
For the marketing manager, you could decide to enrol them into a different apprenticeship scheme focused on helping them progress to become a leader at your business.
During an apprenticeship, your employees will still work in their current role and continue to receive the associated benefits such as a salary and holidays.
They usually last for a specific amount of time (anything from 12 months to five years) and involve the employee attending a range of practical sessions including workshops, seminars and one-to-one mentoring sessions.
WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF APPRENTICESHIPS?
Before you enrol your staff in an apprenticeship scheme, you’re probably eager to know about the pros and cons. Thankfully, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks, but here’s a breakdown of each for full transparency. Let’s start with the positives.
YOUR EMPLOYEES WILL RETURN TO WORK WITH MORE SKILLS UNDER THEIR BELT
Apprenticeships are focused on teaching people the necessary skills to take the next step in their careers. Once they’ve completed the scheme, they’ll gain valuable qualifications and be equipped to become masters of their trade.
THESE SKILLS CAN BE TRANSFERRED ACROSS TEAMS
Internal upskilling in the workplace is essential for business success and apprenticeships provide your employees with the opportunity to make it happen. They’ll return to the office feeling motivated and ready to share their learnings with their peers. Everybody wins.
YOUR TEAM WILL BE MORE PRODUCTIVE
By creating a culture of learning, employees will feed off each other's expertise. They’ll be more confident to make business-critical decisions and try out innovative ideas.
EMPLOYEES WILL RECEIVE BESPOKE SUPPORT THROUGHOUT THEIR JOURNEY
By working with an external training provider, your employees will have access to their tutor’s time in one-to-one meetings and during practical sessions too.
YOU’LL RETAIN YOUR BEST STAFF
Enrolling staff in apprenticeships shows you’re invested in their career development. This should improve their happiness and they’ll most likely stick with you for the long run.
YOUR ROI WILL HEAD IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION
All of these benefits will ultimately contribute to your ROI. Staff will get better at their jobs. They’ll feel engaged, focused and be committed to ensuring your business stays one step ahead of the competition.
So, that’s some of the pros of enrolling your employees in an apprenticeship scheme. What are the cons you need to be aware of?
YOU HAVE TO PAY FOR THEIR SALARY AS WELL AS THEIR TRAINING
We get it. Budgets are tight and you need to be careful about your spending. Thankfully, the Apprenticeship Levy means you may be able to enrol your staff onto a scheme at a well-discounted rate.
APPRENTICESHIPS AREN’T AN OVERNIGHT FIX
As we mentioned, some apprenticeship schemes can run for long periods. This means your staff need to be committed to the cause so the investment is worthwhile.
STAFF WILL NEED TO MASTER THE BALANCING ACT
Employees enrolled in an apprenticeship scheme will need to be prepared to balance their job and spend time learning. It’s vital you consider this when assigning their tasks or planning their working week.
So, there’s a quick rundown of what an apprenticeship is and some of the pros and cons. How do things look for mentorships?
WHAT ARE MENTORSHIPS?
Mentorships are a little different. These are schemes usually run internally between an employee and an experienced person with the business.
Like an apprenticeship, these schemes focus on the employees' development. This may involve helping someone achieve their personal or career goals, introducing them to new ways of thinking, challenging their assumptions or sharing valuable life lessons.
Your business is ultimately responsible for implementing a mentorship scheme. You’ll need to decide which employees are best suited to be mentors and match them with mentees.
There’s no set structure for how a mentorship scheme will run. That’s completely up to you and everybody involved. Therefore, if your business has very little experience setting up a mentorship scheme, an apprenticeship may be better.
WHAT ARE THE PROS AND CONS OF MENTORSHIPS?
Here are some of the pros of mentorship schemes and why your business might consider starting your own.
MENTORSHIPS CAN BENEFIT BOTH THE MENTOR AND THE MENTEE
A mentorship scheme isn’t just focused on developing the mentee. The mentor will gain confidence and pick up new skills such as becoming a good communicator and increasing their own self-awareness by taking part.
THEY DON’T COME AT A COST
Mentorship schemes are run internally. You won’t have to pay a training provider to support you. If you’ve weighed up an apprenticeship and the funds aren’t available, then a mentorship might be better.
STRONG INTERNAL RELATIONSHIPS CAN BE FORMED
Mentorship requires a lot of one-to-one time. Your staff will get to know each other and form strong bonds. This can be beneficial should the two people ever have to work on projects together.
These are all great benefits, but like apprenticeships, there are some cons you should consider before deciding.
YOU WON’T HAVE GUIDANCE FROM A TRAINING PROVIDER
Running training and development programmes will be an external provider's bread and butter. They’ll know how to get the most out of your employees and have plenty of experience in doing so.
With a mentorship, it’s in your hands to make the project a success, which can sometimes be difficult without the necessary guidance.
A MENTORSHIP SCHEME REQUIRES TIME AND PLANNING FOR IT TO BE A SUCCESS
Your business is probably already pretty busy. For a mentorship to work, a lot of thought and planning needs to go into the process. Mentors and mentees also need to be committed to the scheme and this can sometimes be problematic if they’re already working in a busy role.
THEY CAN CREATE LOYALTY ISSUES
Mentoring schemes can sometimes find conflict when loyalty issues must be confronted. There’s a fine line between expressing challenges and saying something you shouldn’t. This can put mentors in a difficult position and lead to them feeling stressed at work.
IT TAKES TIME TO DEVELOP HIGH-QUALITY MENTORS
Being a mentor isn’t something anyone can just pick up and roll with. A mentor must be experienced and have the right personal skills to make a success of the project. For some businesses, finding a mentor might not always be as straightforward as it seems.
So, there you have it — an in-depth breakdown of what apprenticeships and mentorships are and the pros and cons of each. But are you any closer to deciding which option is right for you?
If you’re considering an apprenticeship scheme for your employees but need a little more information on what they involve, how much they cost and the benefits they can offer, we’ve created a brochure that does exactly that.
Are you looking to create a path for more of your employees to become influential leaders in your business? Are you ready to provide your staff with the chance to develop their skills to become the best at what they do in the new era of work?
Download your copy of our brochure below to see how we can offer the guidance your business needs on your apprenticeship journey.