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Apprentice learning styles

Each apprentice/trainee will have their own learning style. Some apprentices work best from a list of instructions, while others may prefer to be given a practical demonstration.

Some apprentices/trainees learn better in a simulated work environment. Others learn by just getting stuck into it and having a go. It doesn’t matter whether the training is delivered at trade school or by you on site, it will be easier and more effective if the apprentice’s preferences for a particular learning style can be used. 

Learning styles can be either:

  • Visual: Respond well to visual images
  • Auditory: Respond well to the spoken word
  • Kinesthetic: Learn best by doing

While some may have a preferred learning style, most of us like a combination of methods. By observing your apprentice/trainee you will, over time, notice what their preference is.

When you tell me I will forget
When you show me, I may remember
When I do, I will understand
And when I practice, I retain.

However, it is useful to remember that an apprentice learns most effectively when you work with them using a variety of methods.

Training hints for host trainers

The single most important factor in the workplace learning experience of the apprentice/trainee is you, the host trainer.  The workplace is a legitimate learning environment and your role as a workplace trainer has become increasingly important. While you may be concerned with productivity your role as a host trainer is the primary factor in improving the apprentice’s productivity from day one.

Many host trainers have never trained an apprentice and may wonder what they must do. Some will base how they train on how they were trained which may not have been the best or fairest way. The following information has been produced to give you a few hints on how to train and get the best performance from your HIA Apprentice.

Experience pays: Tip 1

As a host trainer you will train and coach your apprentice, act as a mentor and support them as they are embarking on their career. To make hosting and training an HIA apprentice rewarding for both you and the apprentice, we've compiled some tips and suggestions, outlined below.

Workplace host approach

A good workplace host will:
  • take a personal interest in the apprentice’s development
  • communicate well and develop a rapport with the apprentice
  • provide feedback and progress reports
  • be a good role model.

Your role

Be clear on your role and responsibilities, ask:

  • what support is available to you from your Field Officer?
  • what does the apprentice have to achieve and by when?
  • who is the HIA Apprentices contact person?
  • who else will be involved in training in the workplace?
  • how do you report the apprentice’s progress?

Starting out

When you're getting started, make sure you:

  • welcome the apprentice and introduce them to their co-workers
  • take an interest
  • ask questions.

Training tips

While training your apprentice, remember that people learn best when actively involved in their learning. Always ensure your apprentice knows: 

  • why you are doing things
  • why these things are relevant
  • why these things are important.

Giving instructions

Take time to think about the instructions you give, break the job into steps if necessary. To give clear instructions you should:

  • assume the apprentice has no prior knowledge about the task
  • explain why the task is done this way
  • use clear and simple language
  • include safe work practices in your instructions
  • ask questions to check for understanding
  • make sure there are no distractions.

Show and tell

Take time to show the apprentice how to do things the correct way. Observing is a quick and very effective way to learn it allows you to:

  • demonstrate
  • explain why the task is done this way
  • use correct work practices.

Experience pays: Tip 2

Practice, practice, practice

Allow time for the apprentice to practice new skills and expect mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. Point the apprentice in the direction of how they can do it right.
  • Watch and coach.
  • Be patient.
  • Ask questions to encourage the apprentice.

Encourage and correct

  • Give praise where it is due.
  • Suggest techniques to improve.

Ask questions

  • Check for understanding.
  • Involve the apprentice in decision making.
  • Obtain information and feedback.


  • Know how the apprentice is progressing in all areas of training.
  • Set a regular meeting time with the apprentice.
  • Ensure the Apprentice Experience Register is signed off.

Give feedback

  • Allows the apprentice to measure their progress.
  • Encourages and builds confidence.
  • Targets areas to focus on to improve skills.
  • Allows you to openly discuss progress and concerns.

Seek feedback

  • Find out what areas they may need extra help or may be worried about.
  • Wait for answers; don’t be afraid of silence.
  • Be positive; help them find their own solutions.

Ask the right questions

  • Ask open questions (who, why, what, when, where, how), to encourage feedback.
  • Yes/No questions don’t get much information.

Experience pays: Tip 3

Motivate with variety

Apprentices often spend the majority of their time doing routine jobs. Variety allows the apprentice to build confidence in their ability as well as make training more interesting.
Variety could include:

  • new and different tasks
  • opportunities to apply new skills in different work environments such as alternative work sites or sections of the business
  • visits to trade shows or contact with clients or customers.

Give recognition

You could try:

  • making an announcement at work about their achievements
  • organising a ticket to a trade show
  • arranging for them to attend a management meeting
  • nominating the apprentice for HIA Apprentice of the Year award.

Solutions to problems

Most apprentices experience problems at some stage during training. These problems can be with the job itself, the training or perhaps more personal issues. If workplace performance is affected, perhaps the apprentice is:

  • nervous about how well they are going
  • uncomfortable with some of the other staff
  • under stress, has too much on their plate, or is behind in some aspect of their training
  • having personal and/or home difficulties
  • having problems with the reading, writing or maths requirements of the job or the training

Towards a solution

When an issue arises, you can help the apprentice work through it. Follow these steps:

  • Have a positive attitude
  • Put apprentice’s needs into perspective
  • Look for a win/win situation
  • Negotiate, encourage and advise

Reading, writing and maths

When working with the apprentice, think about:

  • the level of reading, writing and maths the apprentice needs to effectively carry out the job
  • how you communicate with the apprentice
  • what skills you expect of them when coaching and giving instructions
  • whether the instructions are more complex than the job
  • whether you have realistic expectations.


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