BECTU - Apprentice Mentoring event

Lured by the promise of a Devon Cream Tea, and views across Torbay, theatre staff from across the South West, and even Hampshire, descended on Torquay's Princess Theatre this November to discover more about getting involved with apprenticeship schemes, and how they could support them by becoming mentors.

The afternoon event was organised by Martin Roberts, BECTUs Learning Organiser. He was concerned that many experienced staff in the theatre sector were not getting involved in workplace apprenticeship schemes. This was because of a lack of information about what would be asked of them, what training was available and what were the benefits, and possible challenges, of getting involved with an apprentice.

With this in mind Martin approached Unionlearn, and Union Support Officer, Keith Hatch soon put him in touch with Paddy McNevin from nearby South Devon College. Though now heading up the Colleges new Energy Centre Paddy has a wealth of experience both working with, and training, apprentices along with their coaches and mentors. He even started his career as a 14 year old apprentice plumber on a building site in Dublin, so had a good idea what the new trainees would be feeling.

The event covered all the areas that the BECTU members had been hoping for, and some they hadn’t even thought of such as the Safeguarding issues that present themselves when working with young people. As well as being informative the session was very interactive as participants spilt into groups to discuss ideas and experiences.

At the end of the training session people were given, a unionlearn funded, Devon Cream Tea and a chance to network followed by a tour of the Princess Theatre.

Feedback from the session was very positive. Victoria Morris is a Lecturer, Trainer and Assessor and the sole contact for Technical Theatre employers and apprentices for Exeter College.  Victoria said: “I thought that the training was very useful in outlining the differences between the mentor and coaching roles which is essential for employers and colleagues to understand.” 

Victoria also she had been discussing with Martin about building on the Torquay session by “holding a coaching training day which would also benefit the employers, so that they understand what role they need to play in the apprentices’ training & learning.”

There were lots of positive comments about the venue and the course, though one or two people would have liked more time and case studies.

Dagnijai Innus from Hall for Cornwall said: “Good grounding, succeeded in making me want to incorporate mentoring in my work, also helped understanding of what's involved and role of my organisation in making apprenticeships work well.”

Chris Durham added: “Good to have an opportunity to network and especially with individuals I wouldn't necessarily normally come into contact with.”

On the way back to train the Hall for Cornwall crew were spotted deep in conversation about how to introduce an apprentice program in the Truro venue, so looks like the main aim of allaying fears and promoting apprentices had worked.