If your company is still using one of these apprenticeship management tools, it’s time for an (desperately needed) upgrade. The goal of an apprenticeship program is to add value and resources, not take them away!
Let’s break down the most outdated tools wasting time, money, and effort for apprenticeship programs. Then: what to use instead.
1. Pen & Paper
Ah, the trusty pen… and paper. Mightier than the sword? Maybe not for apprenticeship management.
We still come across a surprising number of businesses using pen and paper to monitor their apprenticeship programs. In fact, it is the most common way to manage apprenticeships, especially in trade industries. Why is that?
A pen, some printer paper, and a clipboard doesn’t break the budget, and most companies have all the supplies already lying around. We’re all for saving costs but quality is also important…
Requires the apprentice to self-evaluate without evidence
Evidence of apprentice competencies can be difficult to track with paper. When evaluating apprentices, you have to trust that a check mark = work completed = competency. But how do you know that an apprentice knows what they say they know?
Especially if you have a federally-registered apprenticeship and are receiving government funds, the government will want to know if your apprentice actually learned the thing you said they’d learn. Proving competency with pen and paper is near impossible.
Difficult to store
You’ll need to provide a plethora of information for audits of your apprenticeship program. When using pen and paper, that means you have to keep all paperwork for all your apprentices organized and in one place. Difficult is an understatement.
Lack of visibility
Apprenticeships are designed to have multiple stakeholders involved – from program sponsors, admins, managers, mentors – to ensure the best value for company and apprentice. When managing an apprenticeship with pen and paper, organizing files to enable all stakeholders to have visibility can be incredibly frustrating.
Who should use pen & paper as an apprenticeship management tool?
Absolutely no one, please.
Most people in our society have access to a phone and the internet. And since most everyone has a phone, there is little need to continue using pen and paper as an apprenticeship management tool. You’re just costing your business time, money, pens, and paper. It’s time to upgrade.
Wrong tool for the job. As simple as that.
Great for calculations
Sure, but apprenticeships have few calculations. Rather, the body of an apprenticeship is full of action items, files, and condition-based information like classroom learning and wage progressions.
Awful for organizing large amounts of textual information
No ability to upload files to provide evidence of competencies
No tracking history
No way to display information based on user type
Lack of visibility
The sheer amount of information that has to be displayed for each apprentice creates a spreadsheet that is long and wide, with numerous tabs.
Who should use spreadsheets as an apprenticeship management tool?
Spreadsheets can make apprenticeship management incredibly overwhelming. It could be so much simpler. You want your employees and apprentices actually doing the work, not feeling overwhelmed by administrative duties like organizing and trying to find information in a spreadsheet. Spreadsheets don’t belong in apprenticeship management. Enough said.
3. Project Management Tools
Asana, Trello, Basecamp, Jiro, Monday.com. You’ve probably used these tools, or at least you’ve heard of them. We’ve tried to manage apprenticeships with project management tools – and there were major problems.
Can track tasks
The basic structure of a project management tool is task-oriented. Seems right for an apprenticeship program, we guess?
Phases, boards, and tasks, oh my!
There are three parts to any project management tool: phases, boards, and tasks. However, these don’t necessarily align to the structure of an apprenticeship program. Apprenticeships don’t have phases. Rather, there are classroom courses to be taken and On-the-Job Learning (OJL) that needs to occur. Those items are time-tracked and evaluated.
Another key issue to forcing an apprenticeship into phases, boards, and tasks is that not all apprenticeships have the same workload all the time. Rather, tasks are adjusted, assigned, and completed based on courses, OJL, and business needs as they come.
Long task lists
Project management tools require you to lay out the entire program in one place, which isn’t a bad thing. The problem is there’s usually only one view: every task ever.
On each day of an apprenticeship program, there are two fundamental questions asked:
For an apprentice, “what am I supposed to work on?”
For a manager, “what work do I give?”
Having all tasks in one place, displayed as a long list is absolutely overwhelming. When people get overwhelmed, they get stuck. The apprentice stops because they don’t know what to work on. The manager stops because they don’t know what work to give. Progress stops, and now, programs fail.
Tasks require due dates
In an apprenticeship, you’re trying to teach someone something and map it against what they’re supposed to know. What happens when an apprentice gets ahead or behind schedule? The project management tool “breaks.” It takes considerable time and effort to restructure the apprenticeship as a project.
No way to partially track time
What if a class has a prescribed 10 hours, and an apprentice has logged two hours? A project management tool is not built for partial time tracking. In these tools, time is allocated at a project level. The apprentice does not easily know how many hours they need to spend on each task and is not able to say “I’ve done a few hours on this task.”
Typically no “roles,” so permissions are the same for every user
Clear issues. Anyone could potentially approve competency or time, including the apprentice themself.
Lack of reporting
What happens when you need to generate a report for your federally-registered program? Project management tools can typically only track done or not done. There’s no way to simply know: how is my apprentice doing?
Who should use a project management tool as an apprenticeship management tool?
A company with one, not federally-registered apprenticeship. Maybe.
Apprenticeships aren’t linear, but project management tools are structured to be. At the end of the day, project management tools create more work than necessary. Progress is impeded. Think of it like trying to cut steak with a spoon or write with chalk on a whiteboard. It’s just not efficient.
4. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Systems
CRM systems track interactions and sales deals with certain contacts and accounts. However, your employees are not your customers, and your talent pool is not (usually) managed by your sales team.
All in one place
Custom environments are costly
In order to make a CRM system work as an apprenticeship management tool, you’ll need a custom environment, which could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Who should use a CRM system as an apprenticeship management tool?
Software development companies with hundreds of thousands of dollars.
It’s like making the wrong dress fit. It’ll cost you a lot of money and time to alter.
5. Learning Management Systems
Good news! There are learning management systems out there specifically designed for apprenticeships. Learning management systems for apprentices are designed by educators selling courses for an apprenticeship. These systems provide space for
Provides course materials, curriculum, and course assessments
No On-the-Job (OJL) Learning planning, tracking, or management
The core component of an apprenticeship is what the apprentice learns on-the-job. Without the ability to determine and track what an apprentice is learning, LMS systems are only useful for coursework.
Not customizable for the apprenticeship job title
Learning management systems are not customizable. You can’t create an apprenticeship for a particular occupation that the provider doesn’t offer.
Who should use a learning management system as an apprenticeship management tool?
A vital tool for any apprenticeship program, but keep in mind classroom learning is only one part of the apprenticeship management picture.
Meet: Apprenticeship Software
Apprenticeship software is a tool specifically designed to help companies manage apprenticeship programs.
And if the shoe fits..?
How to transition to Apprentix
Apprentix is modern apprenticeship software for businesses looking to easily design and manage apprenticeship programs. We empower businesses to build their talent pipeline and reduce turnover through high-quality apprenticeships.
Implementing Apprentix is a simple as:
Create an account.
Design your apprenticeship program in 11 easy steps.
Select a plan and begin managing your apprenticeships with Apprentix.
After that, you’ll login to your Apprentix account once per week to manage your apprenticeship programs.
It takes 15 minutes to start, a quick in, quick out, do your work, and move on – no training required. Get started today.
Like the article? Spread the word
Join hundreds of businesses and their apprentices.