Running an Apprenticeship

Top time-consuming activities when running an apprenticeship

Patrick Cushing
Patrick Cushing
June 4, 2024

Apprenticeships, like anything worth doing, can be time-consuming. There are tools to help speed some of these tasks, and some will go faster with time, but an apprenticeship is an investment. Investments take time. Here are some of the top time-consuming activities with running an apprenticeship.

Training Planning

Especially if yours is a new apprenticeship program, it takes time to plan exactly what you're going to train your apprentices. This is something you'll tackle at the high-level with your apprenticeship standards via your work process schedule and related instruction, but this planning goes well beyond that.

Day-to-day, you'll need to plan how to train your apprentices. Training should be tailored to fit their skills, progress, learning styles, and background. It involves assessing where each apprentice is at, figuring out what they need to learn, and finding the best ways to teach them. It can take a lot of time and effort to make sure each apprentice gets the support they need to succeed, but this is a muscle that gets stronger as you use it. The more your organization thinks about this to start, the more it'll become second nature to account for over time.

Partnership Coordination

If you're a sole employer apprenticeship with a training center in house, you can skip this section. For everyone else, you need to work with additional organizations to execute on your apprenticeship. If you're working with a related training and instruction (RTI) provider, you need to work with them to enroll your apprentices in their classes, check in part way to address any issues before the end of the term, and you need to have a feedback mechanism for getting grades when complete.

What other partners might you have in an apprenticeship? Maybe you're a community college sponsor and now you need to coordinate with employers to make sure on-the-job training (OJT) is happening. Or, you partner with a non-profit as part of obtaining additional funding through a grant. Or, you work with an organization that provides additional wrap around services like tools and equipment for your apprentices. Working across these organizational boundaries supports your program, but they all take time to establish.

Mentor Coaching

Unless your current staff has gone through an apprenticeship previously, it's unlikely they're well-suited to be good mentors to your apprentices on day 1. You'll need to coach your existing employees on how to support your apprentices. It's a good idea to have your existing employees bought into the apprenticeship while registering so they know its coming and have a hand in crafting it. They'll have questions, need to be trained prior to bringing in apprentices, and then likely need follow ups as the program progresses.

Many organizations put together mentorship handbooks to standardize coaching of mentors, but this, too, takes time to create.

Logging and Record Keeping

At WorkHands, we have a few ways to make this go a lot easier, but it still takes time to log apprentice progress, approve hours or competencies, classes, and wage progressions. Beyond the apprentices' progress, you'll want to track apprenticeship agreements, training plans, assessments, certifications, and more. Whether you do this on paper, in excel, or in an application like WorkHands, you do need to ensure your records are kept up-to-date both to make sure you're running a solid apprenticeship program AND to be ready for a periodic DOL audit of your program.

Ensuring that all documentation is accurate, up-to-date, and compliant with regulatory requirements requires meticulous attention to detail and organization. As a result, managing the administrative aspects of logging and record-keeping can consume a significant amount of time and resources.

Some of the above tracking can be made simpler with software. Others, go faster with time as your organization incorporates apprenticeship into its day-to-day. All of it is an investment that's worth making.