Still business as usual for all of our engineering apprentices who are making excellent progress through remote learning and support. After a number of weeks trialing different approaches we have finally found a method to engage and inspire our apprentices.
In our early planning the team decided to put the current schemes of work on hold and chose a project which could be worked on by all apprentices remotely and which provided learning and practice of new knowledge and was a fit with all our apprentices; Metal Fabricators, Mechanical Maintenance and Engineering Technicians. Initially we tried weekly calls with an instructor, about an hours duration but this was often difficult despite arranging call appointments many didn’t pick up and some had IT issues, technical instructors became disillusioned sat at home in isolation really wanting to work with the apprentices but having problems. We started with Skype and are still using it, often that has issues which all added to the frustrations. So what have we done? We have put our apprentices into small cohorts and the technical tutors deliver a range of theoretical weekly sessions over Skype which last 60-90 minutes each, the sessions are then followed up with individual apprentices by phone/Skype to confirm next steps and answer any queries. A bi-weekly webinar for all apprentices so far has covered maths, safeguarding, Prevent, Health and Safety, E and D and career planning – CEATA staff delivered a 5-10 minute bite size slot each and notes from the webinar are available to apprentices through OneFile. Although we had to ask all but the speaker to mute their mics and turn off the video the chat was alive with questions and feedback. As a result all of our apprentices are engaged and with several weeks of remote working many are now aspiring to merits and distinctions and the instructors are much happier as they are able to see real progress and have strengthened their working relationships with their cohorts. Using Skype for the smaller groups ensured apprentices have interaction with each other and they to have begun to use various platforms to help and support each other. Short fun quizzes have kept all of us entertained some engineering based and others more general but they help keep up morale and healthy competition. We have kept in regular contact with our employers who are all really supportive and all committed to helping their apprentices progress and stay safe.
I’m sure we will continue to adapt and change, we are looking at using MS Teams to see if the call quality improves but overall we are pleased with our achievements. Looking ahead we will open up applications from employers to start new apprentices from August so if you would like to know more about our specialist apprenticeships and other engineering training please get in touch to be part of our success story. Stay safe and well everyone and stay positive.