A mentoring model for ITOs and Employers
About this project
Downer New Zealand collaborated with Connexis and Primary Industry Training Organisation (ITO) to undertake a research project on introducing a collaborative approach to mentoring apprentices in a workplace environment. The project involved 23 ITO field representatives, 85 Downer mentors and 91 Downer apprentices and aimed to assess whether a collaborative approach to mentoring:
- Increases learner completion rates
- Increases retention rates
- Strengthens the mentor/mentee relationship.
A collaborative mentoring programme at the apprentice level was introduced into the Downer business, involving:
- A shared understanding between the employer and the ITOs of what apprentice mentoring involves
- Training of mentors
- Clearly defined roles for ITOs and mentors within mentoring activities
- Consistent support avenues
- Common mentoring tools
- Establishment of key links at a local level between local mentors and ITO field representatives.
Downer has since revised the structure of its apprentice mentoring programme with the view to further embedding mentoring practices within the business. As a result of this research, the model was extended to include:
- Understanding and buy-in to the benefits of collaboration by both parties
- Clear understanding of how the relationship will be driven at a local level, including opportunities to meet identified (i.e. induction workshops, ITO visits)
- The importance of all parties being involved in the initial stages of the apprenticeship.
This project produced a number of downloadable and shareable resources that you are welcome to use or adapt for your organisation.
Print out single-sided - preferably
on card or heavy paper.
Clip out the blue section and
fasten in the centreto make your own
Mentor's question wheel.
|Download the 'how to' guide||Download a printable
mentor's question wheel
|Download the full report|
Video - a mentoring model for apprentices
Downer receives mentoring award
We’d like to extend our congratulations to Downer for winning the Auckland Council’s Youth In-work Mentoring Award 2015.
Downer and the council are Youth Employer Pledge Partners having made a formal commitment to employing and developing young people in Auckland.
Nä Rhonda Thomson, Project Funds Manager Ako Aotearoa
Key themes from surveys conducted throughout the project found:
- The need for ongoing championing of mentoring at a senior level of the business
- Greater structure around when apprentices sign into qualifications is needed to assist in monitoring and supporting individual apprentices in a large organisation
- Apprentice input into the selection of their mentor and discouraging the business practice of allowing managers to act as mentors would result in greater engagement by the apprentice
- Conflicting time constraints for mentors and apprentices need to be acknowledged and addressed early on. In particular an understanding of who is expected to drive the relationship at the start of the mentoring is needed.
No participants of projects withdrew from their qualifications during the term of the project, compared with 27% of a sample of Downer apprentices who were completing their qualifications outside of the project.
In order to implement a sustainable collaborative mentoring approach, both Downer and the ITOs need to proactively promote the value of mentoring and continue to foster ways to initiate and drive this relationship for new apprentices entering the business.
Recommendations for Downer
Downer continues to invest in building sustainable mentoring practices at the apprentice level of the business, including:
- Developing a process to ensure all new mentors receive a copy of the mentor guide and are required to watch the mentoring video developed as a result of this project.
- Apprentice enrolments continue to be structured, to enable greater monitoring of and support. This would include a formal induction process.
- A mentor selection process is incorporated into the structure of the mentoring programme, which allows greater involvement by the apprentice as to the selection of their mentor, and discourages the use of managers as mentors.
- Where possible mentors and ITO field representatives be involved in the initial induction of the apprentice into the qualification.
- Expectations around the mentor driving the relationship in the early stages of the apprentice/mentor relationship should be highlighted more in mentor training material and workshops.
- The structure of the apprentice programme (including mentoring) is clearly communicated to the relevant ITOs and opportunities for them to be involved are identified where appropriate.
Initiatives that could be considered by Downer to further the embedding of apprentice mentoring within the business are:
- The value of the mentoring role be raised within the Downer business. This could involve:
- “Mentor of the year” awards
- Shared stories of successful mentoring practices being distributed throughout the business
- Further (and ongoing) championing of mentoring at senior management level of the business
- Mentor needs around work time commitments with managers need to be addressed in order for the mentors to invest in the relationship to the degree required
- Greater visibility of the mentoring role within the Downer business through formalising a pathway for employees to become future mentors. This pathway should consider:
- Apprentices completing their qualifications
- Skilled employees looking to give back
- How mentoring is incorporated into the Downer leadership programme.
Recommendations for ITOs
ITOs continue to support and facilitate the mentoring of apprentices by the workplace including:
- Clearly defining the ITO field representative role around mentoring, particularly around supporting the learner to engage in the relationship in the early stages of their apprenticeship and acting as an advisor for mentors around qualifications, support avenues and qualification progress.
- Raising the profile of workplace mentors within an apprenticeship. This could involve:
- Good news mentoring stories
- “Mentor of the year” awards
- Developing further support material targeting mentors for ITO field representatives to engage with businesses around mentoring.
- Encouraging ITO field representatives to proactively seek out workplace mentors, particularly at the initial stages of the apprenticeship where a shift between the support provided by the ITO and the mentor occurs. This could involve:
- Mentors and ITO field representatives being part of an apprentice induction workshop.
- Mentors attending part or all of the ITO field representatives visits to the apprentice.
- Key contact details being provided to the mentor and ITO field representative at the point the apprentice signs into the qualification as a matter of course.
- Sue Beckett (Project Implementation Lead to April 2015), Downer NZ
- Lee Pennock (Project Implementation Lead from April 2015), Downer NZ
- Sandy Johnson (Research Led) Peninsula People Ltd
- Ian Jennings, Downer New Zealand
- Peter Sleeman, Downer New Zealand
- Robbie Paul, Connexis ITO representative
- Michael Styles, Primary ITO representative
- Dr Chris Holland (Research Mentor), Work & Education Research & Development Services
Ako Aotearoa $150,000 (excl. GST)
Joint organisational contribution $189,901 (excl. GST)
Launched: 18 October 2016
Beckett, S. and Johnson, S. (July 2014). A mentoring model for ITOs and employers. Presentation at the Ako Aotearoa / Teaching and Learning Research Initiative Tertiary Research in Progress Colloquium IV, Wellington. (6297kb PPTx)
The report from this project is published under the Creative Commons 3.0 New Zealand Attribution Non-commercial Share Alike Licence (BY-NC-SA/3.0-NZ). Under this licence you are free to copy, distribute, display and perform the work as well as to remix, tweak, and build upon this work non-commercially, as long as you credit the author/s and license your new creations under the identical terms.