SSSC Modern Apprenticeships

This resource has information for employers and mentors about how they can support Modern Apprentices.

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Find support and information for employers of Modern Apprentices

What is an apprentice?

An apprentice is someone:

  • who is employed
  • who is learning on-the-job
  • earning a wage from day one
  • working towards an industry recognised qualification.

Employer’s role

The Modern Apprenticeship Framework Document for Scotland outlines the roles of:

  • sector skills councils
  • Skills Development Scotland
  • awarding bodies
  • the training provider
  • The Modern Apprenticeship Group
  • the employer
  • the Modern Apprentice.

Benefits of employing apprentices

  • The apprentice can give different perspectives.
  • Explaining why things are done in a certain way can provide an opportunity to revisit practice and procedures.
  • Provides an opportunity for staff to develop their mentoring skills.
  • Offers a career route into your organisation.
  • Helps your organisation grow its skills base.

What makes a good modern apprenticeship?

The research 'What makes a good modern apprenticeship in social services in Scotland?' published in November 2018 identified key elements which need to be in place to make sure apprentices in social services have a good learning experience.

Thinking about taking on a modern apprentice?

  • Modern apprentices benefit from appropriate employer support.
  • Helpful if employers and learning providers can work together to make sure the apprentice has the appropriate opportunities to learn and develop the required skills and knowledge.
  • Three way meetings between the apprentice, employer and learning provider can support a successful apprenticeship.
  • Can you allocate the modern apprentice any protected time for learning.
  • How can you help the modern apprentice access a range of learning opportunities.

Research into What makes a good modern apprenticeship in social services in Scotland? (SSSC, November 2018) highlighted:

‘ addition to on-the-job learning, good MA programmes provide access to more structured learning opportunities. Although the learning that occurs naturally during the course of work helps to guide the individual's practice, it is important to consider where the apprentices get the knowledge required to underpin effective practice.’ (p33)


Information and resources for mentoring or supporting an apprentice.

Mentoring a modern apprentice

The research report What makes a good modern apprenticeship in social services in Scotland? (SSSC, November 2018) says:

‘Both the training providers and the apprentices stressed the pivotal role of the workplace mentor in creating an effective learning environment in the workplace.’ (p4)

Employers don’t have to identify a mentor for an apprentice, however it’s helpful if an apprentice knows which colleagues are available to support or mentor them. How employers support modern apprentices will differ. There is no set way of doing this.

However, it is important that apprentices are able to have a voice.


What is a mentor?

As a mentor you don’t need to have all the answers. Your main aim is to bring out the best in the apprentice. You are helping them to develop their knowledge and skills including employability skills.


Do I need a mentoring qualification?

No you don't need a mentoring qualification.

You will have a range of transferable skills and knowledge you can use in your mentoring role.

These include your:

  • knowledge and skills
  • practice experience
  • understanding of the values underpinning care practice
  • enthusiasm.

Creating a good learning environment

The basis of a positive mentoring relationship is trust and respect between the mentor and the apprentice. This involves providing support in a non-judgemental way. It is important to treat apprentices as individuals and consider how you can adapt to meet their particular needs.

You need to do all of this within professional boundaries and it's important that the limits of confidentiality are established. These limits will be informed by your organisation's policies, the SSSC Codes of Practice for Social Service Workers and Employers and legislation.


Developing MAs knowledge and skills

Everyone learns in different ways. It's helpful to take the time to ask the modern apprentice what helps them to learn.


The Conscious Competence Ladder

The Conscious Competence Ladder can help both the mentor and modern apprentice make sense of the stages of learning the modern apprentice might experience.

So what questions

Using these steps can help the modern apprentice take ownership of their learning and help facilitate the development of critical thinking.

Setting goals

Goal setting can help the modern apprentice to take responsibility for their own learning.

Goals should be SMART.

Two way process

Being a mentor can help you:

  • develop leadership skills
  • reinforce your knowledge and skills
  • enhance your communication skills
  • gain a new perspective
  • enhance your ability to be a reflective practitioner.

It helps if the mentor can appropriately share their professional experience and knowledge to help the apprentice develop their practice.

A mentor can equally learn from the apprentice. It's important to recognise the skills and knowledge which an apprentice brings to the organisation.

The apprentice brings a fresh pair of eyes and can give a different perspective.

Both the mentor and modern apprentice have the opportunity to learn from each other.