2c - Introduction to the workplace

 Why an introduction?

Some people have trouble with change. This natural defense can make them feel uncomfortable in rapidly changing situations.

A good introduction programme eases dealing with the change of starting in a new workplace.

A good introduction pays in the long run, because it fosters an apprentice who feels more at home in your company and who will start his training with more enthusiasm.

Benefits include:

  • the apprentice feels at ease sooner. 
  • the apprentice is quickly integrated into the team. 
  • the apprentice is quickly aware of the things he should know. 
  • the apprentice gets a good picture of what is expected of him. 
  • you clearly show that you are involved in your employees. 
  • less staff turnover in the first weeks.
 Inform your employees
It seems very logical, but in practice it sometimes goes wrong: inform your colleagues about the arrival of a new apprentice!
 Appoint a mentor
Appoint a mentor beforehand. The mentor can be a trainer, a direct supervisor (the supervisor of work) or an experienced employee who has good social skills. It is recommended that you appoint an experienced colleague as a mentor, someone who does the same job and is often near the new apprentice. It is important that the new apprentice knows that he has someone to turn to with questions.
 Introductory interview
The introductory interview is held with the trainer and the relevant person from the human resources department; this may be the same person in smaller companies.

The introductory interview takes place before the apprentice starts in your company and its aim is for you to get to know the new apprentice.

He also gets acquainted with your company and the employees he will be working with.

You can give the apprentice written information, so he can prepare for the orientation meeting, which takes place when the apprentice starts in the company. 

Click here for an introductory interview checklist.

 Settling-in programme
Check in advance the curriculum of the school, as well as the training goals of the apprentice. Also discuss with the co-ordinator from the school whether the available tools and / or machines are tailored to achieve these goals, and discuss the approach to guidance, assessment and evaluation. All these things should be included in the settling-in programme.
 Orientation meeting

The orientation meeting is part of the settling-in programme and takes place on the first day of the work placement.

In the orientation meeting, you determine which activities and tasks can ensure the development of competencies needed, according to the training plan. Practical company and work issues are also covered.

Make a plan. For example, a sheet of paper stating who the new apprentice should get acquainted with, who will say what, which information is needed, etc.

The duration of orientation meetings can vary.

This depends on the work the new apprentice will do (level, function, degree of specialisation), but also on the knowledge and experience he/she already has.

Also important: take it easy. After the orientation meeting, the settling-in phase follows, and then the training of the new apprentice.

A plan for this should be shown, so the apprentice can see clearly what is expected of him/her in the coming period.

Click here for guidelines for a settling-in programme

 Treat the apprentice as a new customer
If mornings are very hectic in your company, make your appointment with the new apprentice at some other time of the day.

It is important that you have enough time to welcome the new apprentice .

Show clearly that the new apprentice is welcome. Take the time to have a cup of coffee and set the new apprentice at ease.

Introduce the apprentice to his/her mentor and, if your company is small, to all of the other employees.
 Information folder/pamphlet

People can't remember everything. When the new apprentice needs a lot of new information, spread it over several days. First tell the apprentice what he/she needs to know immediately. It might be useful to create an information folder or pamphlet containing the most relevant information.

The creation of such a folder doesn't have to be difficult, since most of the content probably already exists and just needs to be gathered, maybe from different departments, and put together.

In this folder/pamphlet you can include information on company or department habits, the way colleagues interact with each other, mutual cooperation, and so on.

Example haulage contractor Frode Laursen A/S (Denmark)
The folder contains all the important facts for the truck driver apprentice. He/she can read about the company and find house rules on:

  • Company values
  • Rules and a list of contacts
  • About pallets
  • Instructions for loading and unloading, safety precautions and dangerous goods.
  • Damage
  • Driving and resting rules
  • Work conditions, pay checks, daily reports
  • About Frode Laursen A/S
 Give the apprentice a chance
Everyone needs to get used to a new workplace and learning environment, even if they already have some experience.

Don’t judge the new apprentice too quickly and remember to take his/her background into account.

2 - The workplace