How to keep your landscaping apprentice when collaboration gets rocky
Usually, especially in the landscaping sector, apprenticeships are problem-free. But what happens if your apprentice does not give satisfaction or wants to leave before the end of the contract? For the young landscaping apprentices - and for the companies which employ them – dropping out of an apprenticeship contract is a painful experience with a host of consequences, including the loss of confidence by the employer in the training system as a whole. As the landscaping sector finds it difficult to recruit qualified labor, we make the following suggestions to avoid losing your apprentice before the contract ends!
The main reasons why apprenticeship agreements are terminated
An inquiry by CGPME Ile-de-France in 2014 highlighted the key points requiring vigilance:
- For the young landscaping apprentices initiating the break, the basic reasons are financial or mistaken orientation, generating a great lack of interest in the training program.
- For the landscaping companies, the major problems are the negative attitude of the apprentice to the training program and the corporate universe and a lack of skills.
Criticisms from both sides include relational difficulties, a lack of accompaniment and especially, insufficiently qualified tutors. In landscaping sector, as anywhere else, nobody becomes a good tutor without preparation!
How to identify a landscaping apprentice on the way out?
In addition to frequent late arrivals and absences, other signs include:
- a drop in vigilance;
- work perceived as a chore and thus “skimped”;
- a reduction in social outgoings with fewer and fewer contacts with colleagues and a lack of participation.
Drop-outs are more frequent in students with basic professional qualifications (high school diploma), but there are still cases among future landscape design engineers. Breaches of training contracts usually occur in the second semester so companies in landscaping sector have time to act before the rupture!
How to forestall apprentice drop-outs?
Fortunately, there are a host of ways to correct the problems. These “DOs” should be adopted by all landscaping companies, whatever their relationship with their apprentice, and whatever the apprentice’s level of study! A stitch in time saves nine!
Train your apprentice’s tutor
Being a tutor is difficult. Choose an employee able to explain things clearly and in a friendly way! Tutors must stay in close contact with the apprentice’s training center – which may be able to provide a tutor’s training course. Close contact will ensure your tutor understands the frame of reference of the training course and his or her role in this tripartite relationship better. Tutors can also introduce educational tools, very useful in monitoring the student’s progress - and detect any signs of drop-out!
Mobilize everyone in your landscaping company
It’s not just the tutor who trains your landscaping apprentice - but the whole company! Sometimes, the youngster may need to learn something the tutor doesn’t know how to do. In a general way, every employee may have to show the apprentice how to use a tool or give instructions. Everyone is responsible for the success of the apprenticeship. The whole team must feel involved in the training program and ensure that the apprentice feels fully integrated.
Get people to talk!
Frequent frank and open discussions are vital. Most crises can be resolved by allowing apprentices to voice their fears in friendly chats. It is extremely important to build this dialog, in particular by organizing “debriefing sessions” at regular intervals. The tutor reviews the work program and the lectures included in the student’s sandwich course. Apprentices may also have personal problems – a trouble shared is a trouble halved!
Give landscaping apprentices varied missions
If apprentices want to leave, it’s because something isn’t right. Before dismissal, check that the missions they were given were in line with their landscaping training and expectations. By modifying their tasks and/or by giving them more responsibilities, you may remotivate them and get them to see what their studies are for.
Stay in close contact with the training center
Although frequent contacts are preferable with the training center, always call on it if a problem occurs. The objective is not to try to solve difficulties with your apprentice on your own: the training center is there to help and set up a joint action plan to make the apprenticeship work!
Unfortunately, it sometimes happens that the apprentice’s drop-out is inevitable. This event should not cool the landscaping company’s enthusiasm for apprenticeships. Just like for employees with standard work contracts, it can become impossible to continue together despite all the precautions taken during recruitment. Learn the lessons and start the process again!
(1) CGME Ile-de-France: Enquête francilienne 2014 : Clés de succès et facteurs de rupture en contrat d’apprentissage (pdf)
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