When business administration apprentice, Tiffany Johnson, started to miss the support of her peers from learning in a classroom she came up with an idea to solve the problem. Since then, she has been working with college LEAP mentors and tutors to establish an apprentice forum. The forum will help to tackle feelings of isolation and establish a community platform where people can share experiences and learn new things.
“Apprenticeships work very differently to a class based course. One of the things I feel is that apprentices sometimes miss out on the social side of being in class. They often don’t have a way of speaking to each other and getting support from their peers. This problem has grown throughout the past year because many apprentices have been furloughed or working from home. Opportunities for social interaction with other apprentices has been lower than usual.
Over the course of my Level 2 apprenticeship, I was furloughed for a period of time and could only speak to my tutor about my work. I started to feel very isolated. It was harder than usual to speak to my work colleagues about my apprenticeship and ask for their advice. I wished there were other people that were in the same situation as me to speak to about how they were coping. It would have been really good to chat to them about how they were doing their apprenticeship work, and just share ideas with.
Due to my personal feeling towards this, I have been working alongside one of our LEAP mentors. I wanted to try and bring something into place to allow apprentices to communicate with each other. We have worked through a few different ideas but have now decided to hold a monthly meeting. Apprentices are invited to share their thoughts on their apprenticeship journey.
I am pleased to say that our first apprentice forum meeting has now taken place. A handful of apprentices from across different businesses and sectors took part. It went really well. Afterwards, one of the employers asked us if their other apprentices could take part and if there was anything else they could do to support them.
Now that we have a platform which we know works, and is having a positive impact on our apprentices, we want to open it up even more and invite other apprentices to take part.”
The topics and structure of the forum will be designed around what apprentices would like to see and do. Primarily, it will offer an opportunity for apprentices to talk to each other about their experiences. However, there are also plans for a series of guest speakers and a focus on particular social purpose topics each month.
To take part in the forum, contact your tutor and your LEAP mentor, Jo Turner.