This month, Marie’s husband, business partner and mentor during her qualification, Shaun Barrett, offers his advice to other engineers looking to take on an apprentice.
Hi Marie, how important are mentors in the training process?
Mentors are extremely important in our ability to learn and I can see first-hand it can be very difficult for them at times. They must commit 100% to training us if they want us to be an asset to their business. It’s not just a case of using us for cheap labour and leaving us to get on with it. The time spent mentoring us is huge and without it, I very much doubt I would find any of the course easy.
And Shaun, what’s your advice to anyone thinking of taking on a trainee/MLP student?
Make sure you leave enough time to explain things properly and the reasons why you are doing something a certain way so the trainee can see not only the method, but the intended outcome of what you are trying to achieve. And always ask them if they understood what you have said and done. Sometimes people just say yes, but in reality, have no idea what happened and why.
You also have to be patient. It’s not unusual to go over things multiple times so it starts to sink in – give them jobs to do and let them make small mistakes. We all learn quicker from mistakes than you think. Remember that they aren’t you and will develop their own style of working.
We all started out at some point with little idea of just how complex our industry is. You really need to be interested in the progression of whoever you are teaching and not look at it as just a way of getting the van packed up at night.
One of the greatest things we can do is share our knowledge and its rewards aren’t just of the monetary kind. It can be very rewarding when you see things starting to click into place and you see your student just getting on with it.
Over the years I have taught a fair few apprentices but teaching my wife has definitely been a challenge to both of us. We have had a few heated moments! But 95% of the time we laugh about it and try to sneak in a pint on the way home!
Ultimately, my advice to anyone taking on a student/MLP trainee is to remember to take deep breaths and count to 10!