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8 Tips to Improve Apprentice and Trainee Retention

Support – Encourage – Challenge – Succeed


Research indicates that apprentices and trainees who do not complete their qualification cost Australia over a billion dollars annually, with the cost borne primarily by small and medium sized business and government. (Deloitte Access Economics, 2011)

There are many reasons cited why an apprentice or trainee does not complete the training contract, for example relationship difficulties with the workers colleagues or their employer, lack of awareness of financial issues through lack of awareness or training, individual expectations not realistic or met.

Further research reports that many apprentices felt “left on their own” and support networks that surround apprentices were not skilled in providing the support needed, particularly in the first year of the training contract. (NCVER. 2014)

The following tips provide an easy guide to increase retention rates


Take time to listen and learn about your Apprentice or Trainees interests. This helps build relationships between employees and managers and can have an important impact on employee motivation and engagement.

Listening and learning about your apprentice or trainee is an easy way to demonstrate that you care and want to know more about them as a person. This behaviour by managers can have a positive impact on apprentice and trainee attitudes and motivation and strengthen the relationship between the two.


Provide your apprentice or trainee with appropriate job training to help them excel in their career. Ensuring apprentices and trainees complete tasks accurately provides motivation which leads to higher levels of engagement.

Where practical align work tasks with Trade school – Off the job Training activities. Regularly review off the job training activities and progress. Obtains results from the trade school and discuss these with the apprentice or trainee. Identify skill gaps and then seek to address.

Apprentices and trainees are more engaged when they understand the tasks to be undertaken and their responsibilities. An understanding of job responsibilities results in higher levels of performance and commitment to your organisation.

If an apprentice or trainee is having a difficult time with a particular task, offer additional training or coaching sessions to provide further clarification and education. Provide regular feedback so they can improve and continue to excel at their strengths and develop their skills.


Developing your people is important to your success as a manager. Opportunities for growth and development are a key driver of apprentice and trainee engagement as well as organisational success.

Apprentices and Trainees who are given the opportunity to grow and develop their skills are more likely to stay with a company and recommend the company to others.

Expand their knowledge of the industry. As a manager, allow apprentices to job shadow and learn about other roles undertaken across the business. Build their confidence, as they develop look for opportunities and support efforts to take on special projects.


Recognition from a manager is a very important motivator for apprentices and trainees. It encourages positive behaviour and helps promote long-term performance.

A ‘thank you” or “nice job” can go a long way.

Recognition should be simple and should occur as often as possible. There is no limit to how much recognition can be delivered, and it is important that it come from multiple sources (i.e., senior leadership, immediate supervisors, peers and clients).

Recognition promotes positive behaviours and attitudes in the workplace, and in turn, promotes higher levels of apprentice and trainee engagement.


Teamwork grows out of a culture of openness and trust between managers and employees. You’re your apprentices or trainee feels they are part of a team within, they invest more time and energy into their job.

Teawwork fosters a cooperative atmosphere where apprentices and trainees have a positive attitude about the job and also ensures greater efficiency. As a manager, instil a “we’re in this together” spirit among your team.

When co-workers trust each other and rely upon each other to accomplish tasks more efficiently, they are more likely to be engaged at work and less likely to leave.


Today’s best leaders, managers and employees are customer-focused. They understand and anticipate the needs of both internal and external customers.

Make sure your apprentice or trainee understands what your customers (Internal and external) should receive. Yours and the customers’ expectations, including quality and service should be clearly understood. Regularly meet with your apprentice or trainee to discuss this and raise their level of awareness. Taking steps to build awareness will enhance employee customer engagement


Your role as a manager is to support, inspire and coach your apprentice or trainee to their highest levels of performance. Coach your apprentice or trainee so they understand their responsibilities and your expectations.

To meaningfully assess performance, you must be “tuned in” and fully understand your employees.

Take the time to understand your apprentice or trainee, the tasks they are undertaking and the challenges they face. Highlight, explain and provide coaching on areas which are lagging in skill development and performance.

When you provide feeedback to your apprentice or trainee, cite specific examples so they know what they need to start, stop or continue doing to improve their skill development and performance.


Seek and act on apprentice and trainee feedback. We can shoot in the dark and base critical decisions on assumptions. Seeking and acting on feedback is at the core of employee engagement and development.

It stands to reason then, that we should be interested in what our apprentice or trainees have to say. Find out, what may be affecting them and how you and they can better meet their needs and the needs of the business.

As a supervisor or manager, it is really important that we seek and accept feedback from our apprentice or trainee in a positive way. Responding negatively is likely to damage the working relationship and discourage them from providing you with feedback in the future.

By seeking feedback and analysing feedback, we can make better decisions and demonstrate our commitment to our apprentice or trainee.   

Bonus Tip


An effective strategy to improve apprentice or trainee retention is the engagement of a mentor that is independent of the workplace.

The Westvic Staffing Solutions mentoring program is an affordable—way to provide apprentices and trainees with the opportunity to develop and enhance their skills, gain valuable guidance and realise their career and life aspirations.

The Westvic Staffing Solutions mentoring program is a person focused service. It is a partnership based upon mutual trust and respect and is designed to guide the employee through their apprenticeship or traineeship to become productive and valued members of the workforce.

Our mentoring program is structured to support the apprentice or trainee by encouraging them to develop solutions to resolve issues they may come across and explore new ideas and options in confidence rather than leaving it to chance.