Apprentices are required to be hands-on on their training – that’s the whole point. Is there any way to translate this experience for the internet and facilitate real-world application remotely?
How To Launch A Successful Apprenticeship Online Training Program
The corporate world is deeply blended. Online and offline aspects are intensely enmeshed, so it was just a matter of time before digital apprenticeship became a thing. While there are aspects that will require offline activity, a good portion can be done virtually. Launching the product with a big bang is important. But before you get there, it’s crucial to develop a solid foundation for your online training program. Then you can bring out the bells and whistles. Here are 5 insider tips to launch a successful apprenticeship online training program.
Many companies don’t value their interns or put much effort into their apprentices. They view it as a source of unpaid labour, or as a way to keep the boss’s family members busy. It’s nothing more than a seasonal distraction, and interns may be restricted to coffee runs. However, a well-run apprenticeship online training program could identify tomorrow’s top talent. It’s a brilliant recruiting tool because apprentices can rise through the ranks. And if you can say, in a few years’ time, that your C-suite started as in-house interns, it’s brilliant PR. This attitude should extend to every part of the business, from the CEO to the guy at the door. If the boss takes organizational training wheels seriously, everyone else will too. And if the company has a shared vision regarding the apprenticeship online training program, it has a way better shot at success.
Most online training programs, especially in corporate set-ups, are internal affairs. But when you’re working with apprenticeships, your approach needs to be more universal. You might have ten or even twenty corporate learners per internship cycle. Out of those, you’re unlikely to hire more than five. Often, you’ll only retain one. But if you have a large enough impact on all the other corporate learners, they’ll carry it with them. They’ll speak well of you within their circles. This is helpful if you ever need to recruit someone vaguely connected to them.
That’s why it helps to make a big splash about your apprenticeship online training program. Use social media tools and industry networks to attract as many applicants as possible. Work with partners to spread your reach, both online and off. Make real connections with corporate learners, especially those who will leave when they’re done.
Many apprentices are fresh out of school. Even if they’re mature learners, they’re starting at the bottom rung. This may be driven by a late-in-life career change. Either way, their disposable income is probably limited. If you can’t pay them, at least give them an allowance for meals and transportation. You could also issue them tablets or laptops. These will mainly be used for their online training, though they can also use them for work. If your apprenticeship online training course has mobile compatibility, apprentices can study on their smartphones.
However, giving them an ‘office’ device increases their buy-in. They feel like part of the group and will be more invested. Engage the right partners for your apprenticeship online training program, e.g. tech giants, finance institutions. This raises your spending limits and gives you more scope. For example, you could get branded phones and tablets which your apprentices get to keep afterwards. And it won’t cost you a dime.
If you’re working with younger generations, which is often the case with apprenticeships, they have an entirely different relationship to the web and social media. Which can be a good or bad thing. In that sense, launching your apprenticeship program online is a great way to recruit them. Continue the momentum by sharing your progress online. The apprenticeship online training program itself provides content, whether it’s a daily apprentice diary or live-tweeting simulation sessions.
Get the apprentices involved as part of their training. Involve them in content creation, making it an assessable unit in their marketing modules. This gives you double benefit because they’re learning while doing tangible work for your brand. Because they know this is ‘for real’, they’ll put more effort than they would in an online training simulation. And because it’s an actual project, both you and your apprentices can measure your ROI in real-time.
Apprenticeships usually involve job shadowing, wherein the corporate learner gets to see the ‘master’ at work. In remote learning environments, this just isn’t possible. Or is it? You can use video conferencing tools to host virtual shadowing sessions that impart real-world experience. For example, corporate learners can watch their mentor/online instructor perform a task and troubleshoot common issues. It’s all happening in real-time, which gives them the ability to ask questions as they go along.
However, you can also record the fact for later viewing. For instance, when the apprentice is performing the task on their own and forgets how to perform a step. Video demos are another great way to give them bite-size walkthroughs they can use on the job. Employees are better equipped to apply their skills and knowledge in the workplace if they have a practical example to follow. Rather than trying to see how the theory relates to real-world applications.
The quality of the apprentice matters, but if they have nothing to work with, it wastes both their time and yours. Before you implement your apprenticeship online training program, make sure everybody is invested, especially management. Their (potentially) dismissive attitude is contagious. Find the right partners, ideally loud ones, with a good media presence and generous budgets. Social media needs to be a big part of your apprenticeship online training program, so maximize your usage and do it right.
A successful apprenticeship online training program offers ongoing support. Read the article 5 Tips To Incorporate Peer-Based Coaching In Online Training to discover the positive peer influences that help corporate learners open up and explore new perspectives.
In 2017, changes were made to the way apprenticeship funding works, including the apprenticeship levy and the apprenticeship service – an online service that allows employers to choose and pay for apprenticeship training more easily.
At Learning Pool, we already have catalogue content created that can be directly mapped to apprenticeship training. Find out more here
About the author
Christopher Pappas is the Founder of eLearning Industry’s Network, which is the largest online community of professionals involved in the eLearning field. Christopher holds an MBA and an MEd (Learning Design) from BGSU.