The Engineering Trust

Top tips for engineering apprentices continuing their learning from home

These are challenging times for apprentices. Lets be honest, you probably didn’t think a month ago that you would be sat at home away from the work place… however here you are.

Your employer is in a similar boat, not many of them would have thought 2 months ago that this was possible. 
Well this is the situation you find yourself in so let’s make the most of the extra time that has been presented to you away from the practical elements of your role.

What we know
We know that apprentices (you) can carry on your learning if you have been told to work at home, if you are self-isolating/shielding for health reasons or if you have been furloughed. Furlough… that’s another aspect of all this that until 3 weeks ago we didn’t even know existed. It must have gone from the least used to the most used word in record time.

The government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme which allows a business to furlough staff (including apprentices) is welcome and is being used as a lifeline for many businesses. Apprentices can during a period of being furloughed, continue to receive training – good news.

Learning/working at home is an opportunity   
It is an ideal opportunity for you to crack on with your 20% off-the-job training and catch up or get ahead on other elements of your portfolio. Your Training Officer will have been in touch regardless of what situation you find yourself in to talk to you about what you can do in order to continue to progress during this time.
Ultimately however it is down to you to make the most of this time and not an opportunity to sit at home in your pyjamas watching endless Netflix! It is important to get yourself into the right frame of mind and set yourself up to win. 

It’s personal
Above all else, you need to figure out what works best for you. You may already know the answer, or you might need some inspiration from other people who are in the same boat – either way, try to ensure you are as productive as you can be. You also need to keep your physical and mental health in check. Point 10 below talks about exercise however keeping your head in the right place is equally important to your wellbeing. For our apprentices, your Training Officer is a great person to speak to if the learning or something in your wider world is causing you stress, anxiety or to feel otherwise nervous. 

10 tips on how to be productive when continuing your learning at home

1. Be positive
You have to be 100% committed to making this work and see it as an opportunity to maximise the non-practical aspects of your learning and get ahead on these. We are living through a difficult period which will impact your personal life so keeping a positive outlook on your work will help to balance how you feel. I appreciate that this is easier said than done however if you are still employed (inc. furloughed staff) you can still learn and you can come out the other side of this period and continue through to the completion of your apprenticeship.

2. Be proactive
If you need something…ask. This goes for your employer and your Training Officer. Whilst the latter will be working to ensure you have the work you need to do and will be keeping an eye on what you complete, the drive for you to keep learning must come from you as well. 

3. Maintain regular hours
Having clear personal guidelines on when to work, when to break and when you are done for the day helps to maintain a routine. We as humans usually function and work better when in a routine so it is important to get this established a.s.a.p. Set a schedule, stick to it and introduce others in your household to it so they know when you are at work and when you are ‘home from work’. It doesn’t necessarily need to follow the same hours you would be doing at work unless you are working from home (rather than being furloughed) and your employer is expecting you to do certain hours.

4. Getting started in the morning 
There is a massive temptation to sleep in every day, don’t! Get up and try and be at your computer for 9am – this may mean you can get up later as you don’t have the commute to work but make sure you set yourself a start time and don’t be late. Get into routine for this too (as you would if you were going into the place of work). Up, shower, dressed (yes get dressed, again don’t work in your PJs all day), coffee, check your social media then at your computer for your start time. 

5. Set your work space
Set some ground rules with the other people in your home. Find your area where you are comfortable working and tell others that you want that space during your work hours. It might be your room, in which case share your daily schedule with them so they know not to disturb you during those times. 

6. Schedule Breaks
Follow similar break length and times that you get when you are in company. During this time get up out of your seat and away from the computer screen and take a lunch break as normal. 

7. Get some face time
It can feel like an island (work wise) whilst at home away from your work colleagues. Plan in times to speak to your manager, your friends at work and your Training Officer. Your company may have platforms from which you can do this however if not, offer a free option where you and a couple of people can have a 40min online video meeting. If your employer isn’t forthcoming with this or if you have been furloughed and your employer isn’t actively managing you, then there is no reason you can’t set this up yourself. Be proactive. 
Note. The rules around furlough say you can keep training through this period. You are not allowed to work for the employer or create anything of value for them however this doesn’t mean you have to cut all communication with them. Keeping in touch and them answering questions or giving you information in relation to your learning is allowed.

8. Over communicate
Working remotely requires you to over communicate. Similar to the point above, you need to be proactive with talking to people about what you are doing, what you are achieving and what you are finding difficult. Share your schedule with everyone, when you finish a task, say so. Over communicating doesn't necessarily mean you have to write a five-page essay to explain your every move however it does mean giving people more information than you would if you were in your normal in-company routine and it may mean repeating yourself if you have not got a response to a question you have asked. 

9. End your day right
Similar to starting your day well, your end of day routine is also important and it signals you ‘getting home from work’. Shutting down your computer, clearing your work space or getting back into your PJs all help to separate work from home.

10. Don’t forget to go outside
You can go out for one form of exercise per day, and you should. Remaining inside for days on end is only too easy so planning (into your schedule) time outside and (if you are into it) time to do some exercise is really important. Walk the dog, go for a run, cycle - whatever floats your boat, just don’t forget your social distancing!

Written by Mark - Chief Executive