Becoming a mentor for a project management apprentice

Paul Naybour

Apprenticeships are becoming more and more popular with young people looking for their first job when they leave education. Could you be a mentor to a project management apprentice?

When it comes to apprenticeships, mentoring is a vital part of the process which can assist any young apprentice in the workplace, helping them to pick up new and valuable skills and gain valuable experience. Being a mentor isn’t for everyone, but it is the perfect way in which you can help someone if you so choose and there are currently no specific requirements to becoming a mentor.

What is mentoring?

In the context of apprentices, mentoring is the focus on supporting the career development of an individual as well as offering them continual and trusted support for the duration of their apprenticeship. This can mean supervising, coaching and even managing. It also means passing on expertise and technical skills. Not only is the process of being mentored very beneficial for the apprentice but it can also be very rewarding for the mentor too.

Who can be a mentor?

As already mentioned, there are no specific requirements for someone to become a mentor however there are certain roles that make a person more suited to the position. A mentor should be able to pass on the skills that they have learned in their job, whilst at the same time allowing their apprentice to develop their own skills and steer them in the right direction.

There is no specific training required to be a mentor, and in the case of a project manager, training for project managers should give enough structure to help make mentoring easier. However, there are short courses that can be undertaken that will help you make the most of your time as a mentor. These courses last a couple of days and often take place in the workplace.

Some larger companies provide their own mentor training and even offer extra support to mentors after the training, in house, should they require it.

Points to consider for successful mentoring

Everyone has their own individual style of mentoring and it can often be important to tailor how you mentor to the type of apprentice you have. When possible, it is better that the mentor is someone who is not the line manager of the apprentice, however in certain circumstances, especially in smaller companies this is simply not possible. Mentors should want to do the mentoring and understand what it entails, they should exhibit confidentiality, neutrality and be able to guide their protégé (rather than direct them) in order to help them learn better.

There should be a relatively formal structure to the apprentice / mentor relationship, however this doesn’t need to be rigid. Passing on the benefits of project management is a great way to reinforce everything that you yourself have learnt.

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