Choosing a new apprentice or trainee is no different from recruiting any other employee. You need to make sure they’re the right fit for your business, aligned to your values, and going to help you achieve your business goals. 

Here’s a few things to consider to see if your potential apprentice of trainee is ready for business.

Do they have a good attitude?

Attitude at work is important. A positive attitude can help staff cope with stressful situations, and helps build team cohesion. Having a good attitude won’t necessarily make your apprentice more skilfull at their job, but it will certainly help them get the job done.

You want someone who's going to say ‘yes!’ to new work, who's willing to get their hands dirty and help you get the job done.

What skills do they already have?

As their employer, you’re going to be responsible for mentoring your apprentice and building their skills until they're as masterful as you. It can be a hard, but incredibly rewarding job.

You might decide to look for someone that has a few skills already. Someone who's had some work experience or completed a pre-apprenticeship course will already know the basics of the industry and be ready to hit the ground running. 

Otherwise, you might decide to look for someone completely green so you can shape their training and get them used to your way of doing things from day one.

Either way, being clear on what you're looking for will make the process much easier. 

Do they know what they’re in for?

This is an important question to consider, because the fact is most apprentices have no idea what a day on the tools is really like.

According to research by the National Centre of Vocational Education Research, over 40 per cent of apprentices and trainees don’t complete their training. The biggest reason? They didn’t understand what the job entailed when they signed up.

One way to give prospective apprentices a taste of what your business and trade is all about is to offer work experience. Work experience arrangements can be paid or unpaid. To find out how your business can get involved, visit www.fairwork.gov.au. 

Do they have long term potential?

When you take on an apprentice, it’s an investment — for both the apprentice and your business. And according to research from the Australian Industry Group, the return on that investment for apprentices can be significant; especially for traditional trades. 

As an employer, you obviously don’t want all the time any energy you’ve put into your staff to leave your business when they do. So you need to be sure they're in it for the long haul. So when you're looking for the right person to suit your business, find out what their personal drive is and what their long-term goals are.

Are they ambitious?

Typically ambitious employees are hard workers — they work hard to get the job done, and they work hard to do it well.

Speak to your candidate about where they see themselves in five or ten years, and what their goals are outside of work. That will give you an indication of whether they're really passionate about building a career in the industry, or if they're just looking for a pay check.

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