The mentor works in the same organisation as the apprentice and supports them on a day-to-day basis, supporting their work-based learning and aligning their academic study with workplace tasks and projects where possible. Edinburgh Napier University also provides mentorship support with dedicated academic staff who visit both the apprentice and mentor at least three times a year to review progress, agree targets and discuss any concerns or issues.
All Graduate Apprentices or their employer must nominate the person or people who will be their workplace mentor before they start their course. The university offers advice and support on who is the most suitable person for the role.
“Being a mentor is about being the go to guy, someone to turn to and to help provide the GA with the right resources to succeed.” Durgesh Gaitonde, Information Security Manager at Balfour Beatty.
The workplace mentor role is highly beneficial for the apprentice, especially given that they are on campus for much less time than a traditional on-campus student. They spend 80% of their time in the workplace, and the support and empathy from a nominated person in the workplace with a knowledge of the university programme will aid in their professional and academic development as well as work/study balance. The workplace mentor can also ensure that the apprentice is provided with work that aligns with their course, and support their work-based learning.
The workplace mentor role is not very disruptive to a staff member’s day to day work, particularly if they are already supporting the apprentice through a management, team lead or ‘buddy’ role. Mentors benefit from working closely with the university and adding to their own professional development. The apprentice’s continuous progress both academically and professionally means that the mentor will benefit from their increased knowledge and experience, with the apprentice able to support them on larger and more complex pieces of work as they progress.
"There is the whole chain of support for the apprentice from our organisations with managers and the university but a mentor gives them someone outside of the educator role or managerial role to turn to for support.” Vince Lane, Support Advisor for Covetrus
Edinburgh Napier University provides robust support for workplace mentors through a Mentor Induction Workshop, Mentor Guide, work-based learning guide as well as a single point of contact in the school for any questions or queries. This year will also see the launch of a mentorship forum group, where mentors will receive updates and be able to collaborate with other workplace mentors in order to develop best practice and support each other through their journey.
“I have been very impressed with Edinburgh Napier University and their Graduate Apprenticeship course. I think it’s fantastic and we need a lot more of it. I think the reputation is growing as other managers see the impact and can recognise that this is making people excited about work.” Jennifer Davies, NHS Education for Scotland