Module 4e - The trainer's role

 A position of power
When you become a trainer, you receive a position of authority. Part of this can be:
  • Defining the apprentice’s tasks
  • Assigning tasks to apprentices
  • Taking tasks from an apprentice 
  • Assigning and distributing tasks between several apprentices
  • Making judgements relevant for the youth's future
Have you discussed with your boss the scope of your authority as a trainer?

Do you have guidelines for your decisions?

Do you have a forum in the company, where you can regularly discuss experiences to adjust your conduct?

The trainer has a special position and plays several roles. He/she is a mediator between the apprentice and management.

The trainer has moral and legal responsibilities and ensures not only the professional progress but also the well-being of the youth. You have to prevent:

  • Discrimination because of gender, race or nationality or any other kind
  • Bullying and/or sexual harassment
  • Abuse of alcohol, medicine or any other substance
  • Physical dangers through accidents, air pollution, noise or dangerous chemicals
  • Overstepping the apprentice's physical capacity

You also have to secure that time regulations or other legal regulations are not infringed – neither by you nor by the apprentice.

 In between

Many trainers describe the special position they are in as "kind of in between." The trainer feels like a link between the new employee and the company.

He has to make a decision about his position. Discussing this with the company management is a good idea:

  • Which information must be told to management?
  • What is confidential between the trainer and the apprentice?
  • What is confidential between the trainer and the management?

For the apprentice, the trainer is a confidant, and sensitive personal information can easily be told. Be aware of your moral responsibility!


In your relationship to the apprentice, you will typically alternate between different roles - instructor, mentor and coach. A coach supports the development of the employee's professional and personal competence.

Depending on the role you choose, you can:

  • Support the apprentice
  • Inspire the apprentice
  • Motivate the apprentice
  • Challenge the apprentice

This is decisive for what the apprentice will gain from your training.

This is a four step model for evaluating apprentice's skills:

1.     Beginner
2.     Experienced
3.     Advanced
4.     Expert

In consultations with the apprentice, you can use the categories from the four step model to give feedback about his/her progress (or lack thereof).  

The four steps specify the level, on which the apprentice executes different tasks.

The apprentice’s performance should be evaluated regularly. This is necessary, if the apprentice is to get a sense of his/her learning and progress.   

Evaluation also helps to teach the apprentice the standards of quality that apply to the specific area.  

Your role as evaluator can sometimes be difficult, if the apprentice is not performing well. But regardless of the apprentice’s performance, he/she needs to be evaluated to know about his/her own progress, his/her competences and what needs more practice.

The apprentice exipects you to know correct procedures, the professional standards that apply, and how the work should be carried out.  

Evaluation of the apprentice's performance should move gradually towards professional standards, as the apprentice meets more difficult challenges.  Click here to download the the four step model.
 Technical trainer

There can be work processes where technical training is necessary; for example in complicated machine operation in industrial production, driving under slippery conditions or using complex technical equipment.

To decide whether a work process should be trained in a specific way, the following questions can be considered:

  1. Is the work normally done too quickly or are there other circumstances making the use of manuals impossible?
  2. Is the work process complicated or extensive?
  3. Does the apprentice need extensive demonstration or explanations before the task?
  4. Is great accuracy necessary due to serious consequences?
  5. Does the process involve many choices and/or decisions?

4 - The trainer