Retaining Level 1 Apprentices in skilled trades can be challenging, and high turnover rates can hurt your bottom line. Increasing retention requires a multi-faceted approach addressing why employees choose to leave.

Apprentices may face a variety of challenges during their training, from personal issues to difficulties with their job responsibilities. It’s important to address concerns and provide support to help apprentices overcome these challenges.

What you can do:

  • Invite new apprentices to your team meetings to show they are valued and a part of the organization.
  • Offer flexible hours for work-life balance, leading to increased job satisfaction and productivity for apprentices in their new roles.
  • Offer regular feedback and constructive criticism to build confidence.
  • Recognize and reward achievements and milestones.
  • Work towards a more welcoming, healthy, safe and respectful workplace.
  • Regular check-ins can help identify any issues that may be affecting the apprentice’s engagement.

Download our Retention Checklist

Tips for Retaining Apprentices

Positive and Supportive Workplaces

A positive work environment that prioritizes safety, respect, and teamwork can help to improve apprentice retention rates. Encouraging camaraderie and promoting a culture of recognition and reward can also contribute to a more positive work environment.

A supportive workplace culture can help apprentices feel valued and motivated. Recognizing and rewarding progress, creating opportunities for social interaction, and networking can all help to build a positive culture.

Mentoring and Support

Pairing apprentices with experienced journeypersons can help them learn the skills they need to succeed and stay engaged in their training. Regular check-ins and mentor support can also help apprentices feel more connected to their workplace and invested in their training.

Concerns and Challenges

Apprentices may face various challenges during their employment, from personal issues to difficulties with their job responsibilities. Addressing these concerns promptly and providing support and resources to help apprentices overcome these challenges can help prevent them from dropping out of their apprenticeship.

Opportunities for Advancement

Apprentices may be more likely to stay in their trade if they see a clear path for advancement within the organization. Providing opportunities for skill development, leadership training, and career advancement can help keep apprentices engaged and motivated to continue their training.

Apprenticeships are valuable experiences, but many apprentices may not fully understand the benefits of completing their training. Remind the apprentice of the long-term benefits of their apprenticeship, such as higher earning potential and job security.

Providing apprentices with a clear career path can help keep them motivated and engaged. This plan can include regular performance reviews, goal-setting sessions, and mentorship programs to help them develop the skills and knowledge needed for their desired career path.

Leading by Example

Leading by example is crucial. By demonstrating professionalism, integrity, and a strong work ethic, you inspire and motivate your colleagues, apprentices, and other professionals in the field.

Set a good example of productivity and cheerfulness. You set the tone for the organization—make it a positive and productive one.

Develop good listening skills. Use active listening when discussing topics with your apprentices. Remember to follow up with actions when necessary.

Acknowledge good work. Praising apprentices for their accomplishments is important as it builds self-esteem and confidence in a new tradesperson.

Implement their ideas. To keep apprentices engaged, implement their ideas from time to time—even if they are small ones.

Be fair. Be consistent in managing the apprentice’s performance, whether it is praise or discipline.

Communicate! Let your apprentices know what is happening in the company and the construction or manufacturing industry. Be open, friendly, and professional with your apprentices.

Retaining Employees through Diversity and Inclusion

Retaining apprentices from diverse groups makes your business more inclusive. Consider these extra tips for creating a sense of belonging for people new to the skilled trades.

Diverse and Inclusive Workplace Culture

Building a welcoming and supportive culture for employees from diverse backgrounds can go a long way in retaining them. Encourage open communication, respect for differences, and equity in all aspects of the workplace. Make inclusion a core value and celebrate diversity. Proactively address harassment and bullying. Create inclusion metrics and share them with employees.

Competitive Compensation and Benefits

Ensure that compensation and benefits are equitable across the organization, regardless of race, gender, or other factors.

Flexible Working Arrangements

Consider offering flexible work arrangements, such as remote work or flexible schedules to accommodate the needs of diverse employees. This benefit can help promote work-life balance and increase job satisfaction.

Community and Belonging

Encourage employees from equity-deserving groups to connect with each other and build a sense of community and belonging within the workplace. This engagement can help foster a sense of loyalty and commitment to the organization.

Bias and Discrimination

Take proactive steps to address bias and discrimination in the workplace. Provide diversity, equity, and inclusion training, and establish clear policies and procedures for addressing discrimination and harassment. Understanding unconscious bias is essential to understand ourselves and our workplace.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on how to retain apprentices.

How can I improve communication with apprentices to keep them engaged?

Improving communication with apprentices is crucial for their engagement and retention. Establish regular check-ins to discuss progress, challenges, and goals and provide constructive feedback and praise for their efforts. You will be better equipped to understand and meet their needs and concerns through open dialogue and active listening.

Active listening is a necessary communication skill that involves fully focusing on and comprehending what the speaker is saying and demonstrating your engagement and understanding through verbal and non-verbal cues. It goes beyond simply hearing the words and encompasses understanding the speaker’s message, feelings, and perspectives.

How can I support the unique needs and challenges equity-deserving apprentices face?

Creating an inclusive and equitable work environment is an ongoing process that requires commitment, continuous learning, and an openness to change. As your understanding of EDI grows, you can further refine your initiatives and practices to meet the evolving needs of your diverse apprentices. Continue to educate yourself and your leadership team, including the journeypersons responsible for most of the apprentices’ training. Invest time in learning about unconscious bias, systemic inequities, and the experiences of underrepresented groups. This knowledge will help you make informed decisions and guide your efforts.

Engage with all employees through open and honest conversations to better understand their experiences and needs. Conduct surveys, focus groups, or one-on-one meetings to gather feedback on your business’ culture, policies, and areas for improvement. Create a safe space where employees feel comfortable sharing their perspectives.

A recently hired apprentice just gave her notice because she says she can make more money at my competition. What should I do?

You must offer competitive compensation and benefits to help retain employees from equity-deserving groups. Ensure that salaries and benefits are equitable in your business, regardless of race, gender, or other factors. Take proactive steps to address any bias and discrimination in your workplace and confirm that your apprentice is being compensated fairly. Check to see if there are other perks that you could offer, like flexible work schedules, or provide better mentoring opportunities, or more convenient work locations. If you lose this apprentice, take the time to review and adjust your recruitment, hiring, onboarding and training steps to prevent your competition from luring away your workers.

How can I increase the apprentice retention rates in my workplace?

  • Recognizing and rewarding apprentices for their achievements.
  • Promoting a positive and inclusive work culture that values apprentices and their contributions.
  • Addressing any concerns or issues promptly and providing support.
  • Providing fair pay and benefits with flexible work options.

I have a Level 1 apprentice struggling to complete basic tasks on the job site. I am not sure I can keep him on the payroll. What should I do?

Level 1 apprentices are entry-level workers who may not possess the skills and experience required for long-term employment. If the apprentice does not demonstrate the desired aptitude or fails to acquire the skills necessary to perform the job effectively, you may choose not to retain them. There are some steps to take before you make that decision.

It is important to approach this situation with empathy and fairness. Not all apprentices may succeed in the role, but providing proper guidance and support can maximize their chances. Clearly communicate your expectations to the apprentice, set specific goals for improvement, establish a timeline for achieving them, and regularly review their progress. Provide continuous feedback to ensure they know their performance and areas that still need improvement. Regular check-ins can help them stay motivated and focused on their development.

Suppose the apprentice continues to struggle despite your support and guidance, and it becomes evident that they may not be a good fit for the role. In that case, exploring alternative options through another role in the business or termination may be necessary.