What to Look for in an Apprenticeship Mentor - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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What to Look for in an Apprenticeship Mentor

A critical part of NALP’s Landscape Management Apprenticeship Program being successful for your company is selecting the right mentors.

Mentors are teachers who assign tasks and review performances, but they also facilitate the personal and professional growth of an apprentice by sharing their experience. Mentors can fill in the gaps between the written description of a procedure and how to complete a task in the field.

The relationship between a mentor and apprentice should be one-on-one, but mentors can be assigned more than one apprentice as long as they have time to provide one-on-one time as needed with each apprentice. Mentors provide support, coaching and guidance to the apprentices as they conduct their on-the-job training. Below are the tasks mentors are responsible for in the program.  

Mentor Responsibilities

When starting the program, mentors should have a “get to know you” interview with their assigned apprentices. During this interview, the mentor should overview the program and training, the importance of submitting accurate and timely apprenticeship hour tracking sheets. The mentor should determine the apprentice’s goals and share the company’s goals. The mentor is responsible for verifying the training hours that are submitted by their apprentices as well as making sure the apprentice receives the required training in each of the 17 core skills.  

The mentor should work with the supervisor to determine the daily/weekly work assignments that have the apprentice working on Landscape Management Apprenticeship Program skills. At the start of the workday the apprentice should be given an overview of the skills they will be working on that day and the mentor should make sure they know how to complete the task.

The mentor doesn’t need to stay with the apprentice the entire time, but they should make sure an experienced worker is available to help the apprentice throughout the day. The mentor should also touch base throughout the day to see if the assigned tasks are being performed correctly.

Once a week the mentor should also meet with their apprentice to review the work week and see if they need any help with any skill or task. This should be a time to get to know the apprentice further and discuss any concerns. Every two weeks, the Landscape Management Apprenticeship Program hourly tracking sheet should be reviewed and submitted. During this meeting, the mentor should provide recommendations and encouragement for the apprentice.  

Mentors are also required to submit evaluations on their apprentice every 30, 60, 90 days and every 6, 9 and 12 months. At the end of the program, mentors will submit a final evaluation and confirm the apprentice has met all the requirements of the program.

Qualities of a Mentor

Aside from being able to meet the Landscape Management Apprenticeship Program’s job responsibilities as a mentor, there are a number of qualities you should look for in your potential mentors.

Mentors should enjoy helping people learn. They also need to have good communication skills in order to present information clearly and consistently. Good mentors are role models for expected behavior and praise apprentices for a job well done.

“We’re looking at leaders, whether they’re young leaders or seasoned, it doesn’t really matter,” says Joe Lewis, account manager for Environmental Management, Inc., based in Plain City, Ohio. “We’re looking for people who are driven by making an impact on other people’s lives.”

Other model qualities in mentors include being positive, respectful, patient and engaging. Good mentors provide helpful feedback and have strong listening skills.

Mentors should be aware of the nature of adult learning and take the apprentice’s preferred learning style into account.

To learn more about Landscape Management Apprenticeship Program, click here.

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.