No matter what the make-up of a trades workforce (age, experience, gender, etc.), all can agree on the importance of effective on-the-job mentorship and apprenticeship! In this way, mentorship is not only a lever to affect organizational and cultural change, but it also offers a common ground on which all may stand together when addressing more difficult subject areas.
For instance, it can be challenging for many to openly discuss intergenerational issues in the workplace, but when couched through the lens of how to be a great mentor to a new apprentice, myths and misunderstandings are more easily revealed and understood, and the entire conversation becomes much more positive and solution-oriented.
Our clients who have taken the step of creating an in-house mentor program have experienced benefits beyond improved quality of apprentice training. The most common benefits reported by NB-MAP clients include:
- Improved quality of apprentice training
- Improved team communication (universal, not just with apprentice):
- More communication
- More effective communication
- More respectful communication
- Less fear/avoidance of constructive feedback
- Improved consistency in apprentice training
- Improved relationships between mentor and apprentice
- More journeypersons want to become mentors
- More team members actively engage with an apprentice, supporting their professional development and also supporting their co-worker who has been assigned as the primary mentor
- Improved sense of team and increased teamwork skills observed
- Cyclical learning: mentors learning from apprentices
- Overall less confrontational and more supportive teams
Why Employers Focus On Mentorship
The essential role of on-the-job learning in the skilled trades has taken a backseat to priorities like productivity. Combined with the pending baby boom retirement and a lack of diversity in the workforce, the sector is faced with the loss of thousands of years of knowledge, skill and experience.
According to Randstad Canada, over 75% of Millennials (those born after 1980) want an on-the-job-mentor, and the Millennial generation will make up over 75% of the Canadian workforce and customer base by 2028. Recruiting and retaining this generation is absolutely essential to the survival and sustainability of the skilled trades.
Updating the trades' 400+ year history in mentorship and apprenticeship, to suit the needs of the current generation and address new pressures like technology, is a simple and sustainable way to recruit, train and retain the Millennial workforce.