5b - The learning environment

  
 Well-being
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A good working climate is decisive for whether or not the apprentice feels comfortable and 'at home' in the company.

When an apprentice isn't happy in a work placement, there is a great risk that he/she will drop out of the training programme. And well-being often has to do with feeling acknowledged and welcomed.

Therefore, it is important to create a positive work climate from the very first day. What we say and how we say it, both play a role. This is important to remember as a trainer.

  
 The learning environment in the workplace
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A good learning environment means a lot for the apprentice's development and well-being. There are several factors that are significant, when you want to create a good learning environment in a company.

You can start a discussion in the company:

  • Are there areas in the company that already promote good training?
  • Are there areas that ought to be developed further to improve training?

Consider also:

  • Is there room for diversity (workwise and socially)?
  • Do you help each other, or does everyone stick to their own business?
  • Is it "allowed" to make mistakes?
  • Are you good at learning from your mistakes?
  • Is it ok to ask for help, when there's something you can't figure out?
  • Is there room for new ideas, for example a suggestion from the apprentice to do something differently?
  
 Avoid culture shock
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 Going to school and training in a workplace are two very different things.

Example bricklayer company Allan Larsen & Sønner, Denmark (Erhvervsbladet, 26.5.2004)
"The good trainer prepares the young apprentices, so they don't get culture shock." "For some young people just getting to work in the morning can be hard."

Therefore, master bricklayer Ib Larsen always has a conversation with the youths, to prepare them for the culture shock. He outlines his expectations of an apprentice in a company with 15-18 employees.

The apprentices can ask anything during the conversation, and get an idea of what the trade involves.

"After they've started, I have regular conversations with them to check whether something should be done differently, whether there are persons they don't get along with, or the tone of the workplace is less than desirable." 
 


  
 Example: The apprentice's own place
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Some companies have a special room for the apprentices: They establish an "apprentice club", for example, for social activities or they promote socialising with apprentices from partner companies.

Example construction company Hans Ulrik Jensen A/S, Denmark
The contracting company with 100 employees has found a radical solution: In 2006 they bought a whole building for the apprentices!

The young people are in charge of everything themselves: idea development, planning, economy, remodeling work and making reports.

The apprentices work on the project, when the company can spare time from production.

Through the project, the apprentices' independence as well as teamwork is promoted - and it's fun too!
With this building, the apprentices not only have their own place. They are also practising the company's motto "Successful construction".

Management and the company's own engineers support the project group actively.

Before the project, they identified a need for internal company courses, for example in quality assurance.
In addition, they wanted to be able to offer sleeping accomodations for apprentices in the company, and receive foreign apprentices and sub-contactor's employees.
In the long run, the project should be self- supporting.

Project coordinator, Erik Banner, tells that the company now receives many more applications, and the skilled workers are impressed by the "new competent apprentices".

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5 - The learning process

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