Workplace training, the option to train your apprentice on-the-job and in your own salon or shop, rather than sending them to TAFE or a private Registered Training Organisation (RTO) offers several advantages. It allows you to structure training that aligns to your business needs, and some flexibility around when that training is delivered.
The following points can help you decide if it’s the right option for you, writes Jane Barrett.
The Training Plan
The Training Plan is an agreement between yourself (the employer), your apprentice and your training provider. It sets out the requirements of the qualification, who is responsible for different training components, and timelines. This Plan forms the framework for your apprentice’s training and ensures everyone understands their obligations. If you want to deliver structured training in your workplace, this will also be reflected in your Training Plan. If you’re changing your training arrangement, all parties need to agree and sign a new plan
Many RTOs have well developed workplace training programs and can offer support and guidance. Before making a decision, book a time with your current or prospective RTO to discuss your needs and ask questions about resources, arrangements for assessments, programs, schedules and more.
When it comes to workplace training, your biggest commitment is time. Workplace apprentices require dedicated time for training. This time varies between states and territories but is generally at least 3 hours per week for full-time apprentices. The time must be dedicated to training and the apprentice must be supervised. Usual work duties do not count as training time. This time might be best thought of as one-on-one coaching or mentoring, but with structured goals and outcomes that are documented.
If you’re planning to deliver training yourself, can you dedicate that time? Can you book yourself out for at least half a day every
week? And is that the best use of your time? If you truly enjoy training and have a capable team that can support you while you’re off the floor, then go for it.
If not, is there an existing team member who has the skills and could take this on? Alternatively, could you hire a salon trainer once a week? Be sure to think through these options.
Breadth of Training
Consider the services your business provides. Will you be able to provide sufficient depth and breadth of training beyond your specialties that make up the hairdressing qualification?
If you can’t, it doesn’t mean workplace training isn’t an option, but it does mean you’ll need to develop strategies to address potential gap areas. It may mean engaging a trainer to work with your apprentice in specific areas, or a blended arrangement with your RTO, where your apprentice undertakes some units on campus and others in the workplace.
While workplace training can give you flexibility and choice, it is worth keeping in mind your apprentice will, to some extent, forgo opportunities to work with others outside your business. We know networks and relationships are an important factor in retaining our apprentices, so spending a little time thinking about how (and if) you can replicate the community that a traditional campus environment can provide will help to reduce future issues with engagement and motivation.
For example, if you have a large and diverse team, you can more easily provide opportunities for your apprentice to learn from others. Likewise, if you employ a few apprentices, they will learn from those more advanced, and when guiding junior team members.
Do you and your team regularly attend industry events? If you do, this is a great way for your apprentice to experience the broader industry and begin creating their own networks. Providing support for competitions, perhaps paying the entrance fee or providing a training head can be a great motivator and inspire your apprentice to stretch their skills.
Assessing whether workplace training is right for you depends on the stage of your business, and your goals. The wonderful thing is that there is choice; some time spent thinking through the options will ensure you make the right choice for yourself, your business and your team.