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Apprenticeships are usually aimed at entry-level training and are often carried out in the following three ways:

  • Combination of learning in the workplace and in off-site environments that are geographically removed from the workplace
  • Learning at work and through attendance on training courses within the organisation
  • Solely learning in the workplace, on the job

Benefits of apprenticeships

Usually, apprenticeships last three to five years, under the guidance of a trainer who monitors the progress of the individual. Apprenticeships are great examples of the application of some of the key psychological principles of learning that we have examined so far in this course, such as imitation, guidance, feedback and reinforcement.

They also tend to include high-quality communication and reporting processes within the training, providing opportunities for apprentices to take part in other activities. Examples include meetings and committees with similar others so that they can share their experiences.

Apprentices are paid throughout the training process. On completion of their apprenticeship, they receive a recognised award which can be used to prove skills when applying for other roles.

Furthermore, while carrying out their apprenticeship, they are learning high-level practical skills as well as theory. Ultimately, they become a member of the work team, with a guaranteed position on completion of the apprenticeship programme.

Limitations of apprenticeships

While there are many advantages, there are also certain disadvantages associated with apprenticeships, some of which are listed below.

The programme may be too long for some learners, and possibly too short for others. For example, if a person has an aptitude for a particular job, they may become frustrated that they cannot progress quicker. For others, they may need more time to come to grips with the tasks.

The trainer (more experienced colleague) may be using out-of-date methods. For example, a small engineering company may not have the financial power necessary to invest in the latest technology, whereas a larger multi-national company is more likely to have access to these resources.

Another disadvantage is that good apprentices may leave once trained. Apprenticeships represent a big investment for organisations, especially in terms of the time given to train the apprentice. This investment may feel like a waste if the apprentice leaves soon after training completion.

Also, apprenticeships rely upon the relationships between the more senior/experienced team members and the apprentice. If the relationship between the trainer and the apprentice is not good, this may not be conducive to quality training and learning opportunities. For example, a trainer may see the trainee as a form of cheap labour and get them to do the jobs that no one else wants.

We have looked at some of the advantages and disadvantages of apprenticeships for the individual. Watch the above video to find out what the benefits are for an organisation.

Your task

Search online for at least three advertisements for apprenticeship programmes in the UK.
  • What do you notice about the types of jobs available via apprenticeships?
  • How do organisations describe the type of training that apprentices will undertake?
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Training and Development at Work: An Introduction

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