Although having not completed an apprenticeship, I was once early in career. It seems many moons ago now but is still fresh in my memory! I was very nervous but I was also ambitious when I was given a chance in my first office role. It was the stepping stone to what I consider to be a fruitful career.

The important part here is that someone gave me a chance. They took the risk and saw something in me which they felt could be of value to the business both then in the future. This gave me an opportunity to prove myself and it’s really important for me personally to pay this forward. Now that I am a hiring manager myself, I can give others that opportunity and that chance.

Apprentices, if recruited into the right role can be an amazing asset to the team and the broader business. Here’s five tips that managers can use to get the best from their apprentice. And at the same time, helping them grow into a fantastic employee within your organisation.

Colleagues collaborate on project together while sitting in common space of Singapore office.1.      Challenge them with projects

In my experience, apprentices work best when given specific long-term projects that are an integrated part of the broader teamwork that they can own. By giving them a project, you are helping them develop the confidence they need to succeed in the future digital workplace. It will give them vital planning, collaboration, and project management skills.

2.      Help them find their feet

Supervision, whilst not completely smothering, from a management approach is also the way forward. Apprentices need to find their feet; they need to feel responsibility and ownership for an area of the business and they need to be able to learn from it. Be there to help and guide them, but don’t micro-manage their work.

3.      Let them make mistakes

Apprentices need to know how it feels to make mistakes or to make the wrong decision. But, they need to do this in a controlled and risk-free environment. This will help them grow. I truly believe that apprentices should be in a position to make mistakes once and learn from them quickly.

Two coworkers collaborate on project in conference room of U.S. office.4.      Create a culture of learning

Learning is extremely important. While they’re learning vital business skills it’s important to encourage your apprentices to gain qualifications relevant to their career. At Microsoft, we help apprentices gain new skills and qualifications via Microsoft courses and accreditations. We also help instil a culture of learning by sharing our digital skills programme with our apprentices and others outside of Microsoft too.

5.      Be open to their ideas

For me, it’s important to remember that apprentices can also teach us. As managers, we are here to coach, lead, and support. There’s also a lot we can learn from our apprentices too. They have a unique perspective and offer a different way of viewing the world. They’re often more in touch with how generations consume media, how younger consumers view influencers or how scepticism can overrule marketing. These are just a few of many elements that I learn from my current Early in Career team. There is so much more and they can add so much value if you give them a safe environment and the opportunity to voice their opinion.

A legitimate pathway to a great career

Two women executives collaborate on Surface Hub 2S in PowerPoint. Also featured Surface Studio and Outlook.As someone who was adamant that I wanted to complete a vocational degree at University (BA Hons Business Studies), hiring apprentices into my team has changed my perception of the traditional route into the world of work through university.

As a student, if you can identify the right apprenticeship for you and for your future career ambitions then it’s a great way to not only develop your skills but obtain invaluable on-the-job experience to apply your learning.

As a parent of 10 year old twins, if they decided to complete an apprenticeship I would be super supportive.

As a manager, having an apprentice has really helped us increase our talent pool and enabled me to hire for the  skills I need to develop in my team. Apprentices have no preconceptions of how things should work and have really  helped us innovate with fresh, new ideas. 92 percent of apprentices stay with the company they started with which means you can retain the talent within your business and equip them with the skills your business will need to succeed in the future of work.

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Gillian Binks headshotAbout the author

I am a strong commercial marketer with over 10 years of management, profit and loss and team leadership experience across both retail and manufacturing. I am also passionate about supporting and mentoring others in her team and around the business, especially those early-in-career such as apprentices and graduates. I am a confident individual who can manage customer relationships and negotiate well with all key stakeholders both internal and external.