How to Integrate Apprentices Successfully

The beauty of every young newcomer to any kind of trade or work is that he or she will not be bringing a
lot “baggage” with them on “what the right way of doing something” is. This, in itself, can violate the structure
and stability of a company’s processes. On the other hand, there is a lot of learning and training to be done, and if the teaching and guidance is not done correctly it can reduce the productivity of the whole team. Costly delays can occur by one newcomer not knowing the processes or lacking the necessary skills to do the job. 
 
shutterstock_384977182.jpgIt is important to capitalize on the eagerness of an apprentice and guide them from the start. We must take the initiative to teach them how to manage their time and what is important. Managing time is nothing but managing a sequence of events; and learning how to manage events on the jobsite is not something that is taught in any depth in an apprenticeship program. An apprentice will be more effective on the jobsite if they can be taught how to manage the events of his or her day by scheduling and looking ahead, followed by reflection on how well they accomplished their planned tasks and what blocked them from getting everything done. By using the principles of Short Interval Scheduling (SIS®) anyone can do just that. On the other hand, if he or she is added to the work crew without any direction or schedule to follow, they will be relegated to making use of the time in the day without maximizing his or her learning and contribution to the project.
 
Creating a WBS
To help manage your time, your tasks of the overall project must first be identified and broken down into small, manageable Breakdown Structure (WBS) (September/October 2014 issue of Insights) will help the foreman identify the tasks and items that can realistically be done by the apprentice each day. Figure 1 shows an example of a WBS on how an overall job can be broken down. The only way to include apprentices in the full scope of the project and properly use their skills is to identify and assign them the most suitable portion of the work while integrating the resource planning as the WBS gets created. The foreman or electrician can then hand off specific task items to his team without hesitation or secondguessing who can perform the tasks at hand. This helps everyone to have a clear work plan in place ahead of time and does not force the foreman to “come up” with the next tasks for the apprentice while five other people are asking him what to do next and waiting on instructions.
 
Making WBS a prerequisite and completing it before the actual project starts onsite will benefit the project by reducing the uncertainty and improving job productivity. By breaking down the work into manageable pieces and then using this information to plan through the life of the project will define which items should be done by apprentices, based on their skill set, and will provide a long-term look ahead for the apprentice as well as a clear definition of the work to everyone on the project. More importantly, it allows the project manager to review and predict his planned composite rate. Being able to measure the composite rate on a frequent basis (using Job Productivity Assurance and Control [JPAC®]) gives another lever for controlling the profitability of the project, which now can be actively planned for and predicted. 
 
A Changing Workforce 
There is another challenge growing in the construction mar