Apprentices’ mental health in the workplace – How bad is the crisis that we’re facing?

Written by: Anna Morrison, Amazing Apprenticeships Director

Mental health has been part of the Amazing Apprenticeships team agenda for a number of years, primarily through working with training providers to identify best practice and enable upskilling, as well as supporting employers and apprentices themselves. Mental health and wellbeing remains a regular discussion topic with our audiences across the FE sector – just how bad is the crisis that we’re facing?

I have seen huge demand across the sector – training providers, assessors, teachers, employers and tutors trying not only to support their apprentices, but to also support each other.

From hosting seminars and workshops, cementing partnerships with leading expert organisations, creating resources and materials, participating in white papers, developing re-boarding guidance for employers, joining round tables, speaking on podcasts and sharing my views at an All-Party Parliamentary Group discussion, I have worked to bring this important agenda to the fore.

The wellbeing masterclass series alone has reached more than 5,000 professionals across the sector. The feedback we have received has been incredible and the demand for more is obvious.

The 10th – 16th May marked Mental Health Awareness Week, during which we hosted two webinars on mental health and motivation in partnership with Gen. Healthy Minds and the BAME Apprentice Network. One webinar focussed on apprentices and the other on employers and providers. We also surveyed over 850 individual apprentices and employers to gauge current feeling. We expected a large audience, but the response to the sessions, the openness of registrants and the resulting feedback exceeded all of our expectations.

84% of apprentices voiced their concerns about their mental health and wellbeing, centring around: workload, exams, employment security and financial concerns.

54% are concerned about their mental health and 45% are asking for support.

The biggest challenge employers and training providers identified when we first began exploring the agenda is that it’s not clear where the responsibility lies. Therefore, the risk is that everyone thinks someone else is managing the issue.

Apprentices broadly spend 80% of their time with their employers and 20% with training providers and while pastoral care tends to sit with providers, the apprentice is an employee. The question arises; who should be taking responsibility for mental health and wellbeing? Apprentices generally have at least a line manager, mentor, tutor or teacher. With so many people involved, should the responsibility of care sit with one person or, does it actually take the whole village?

Fortunately, many of the employers we surveyed this year are aware of the deficit with an encouraging 78% currently addressing mental health in varying ways, and a brilliant 88% planning more for the future.

The chat function was busy throughout both sessions. The comments from apprentices were both direct and honest, adding an important direction to the session. The feedback from employers was inspiring, as they took on board all that was covered and were motivated to implement the advice.

This is brilliant – thank you so much! Really useful, practical advice. I can’t wait to pick this up with the team.”

“Thank you very much for a really useful session.”

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