Case Study – Ford Apprentice Outdoor Development

Ford Apprentice Outdoor Development Programme 2016

Our approach to Apprentice Development Programmes is based on the requirements determined by the stage of training that participants have reached. For First and Second Year Apprentices, we focus on getting a balance between personal development and collaborative working, with an emphasis on taking a team approach. For Third and Fourth Year Apprentices, we focus on Key Team skills to enable the participants to work effectively with others in any Team situation, more detailed Personal Development and introductory Leadership Skills.

For this Programme, working with First Year Apprentices, the overall approach was to get the balance right between experiences and learning. Most Apprentices prefer the practical elements of programmes, which is natural considering the career choice they have made. We built the Programme around an Experiential Learning approach and then ensured that all review session were undertaken in as practical and interesting way as possible, to ensure participants were engaged during the learning process. We also covered any theory in an interesting and engaging way and avoided formal ‘classroom’ approaches where we could.

An intensive and thoroughly enjoyable 5 days were spent with the Apprentices and the following approaches were included in the programme:

  • On-site problems and challenges at the delivery venue, both indoors and outdoors
  • Problem solving throughout the programme, using both physical and paperwork based problems
  • Orienteering and Navigation based tasks for clue finding on-site and off-site
  • Outdoor Adventurous Activities to provide challenge, personal development, new experiences and to build team skills, as well as contributing to the overall build-up of complexity for the week
  • Review of problem solving exercises and the event as a whole to capture learning using an Experiential Learning approach
  • Some elements of learning, development and team theory, delivered in a practical and usable way
  • Preparation of a formal learning presentation by the Apprentices for visiting Managers from the workplace
  • Action planning for the future, building on the learning from the event

Some Comments from the Apprentices during their Presentation to visiting Managers at the end of the Course:

‘For the team, I think once we had figured out our roles, it gave us a better understanding of how to tackle problems. This will lead to a more refined team that can solve problems easily’

‘The main thing I will be taking back to work is that I’m good at taking a step back when I’m not feeling at my best and turning myself around.’

‘By ensuring that everybody knew the task, responsibility was shared amongst team members.’

‘By taking a Leadership role, I gained more confidence and belief in self, which will help improve my performance in Ford’.

‘I had a chance to take on responsibility and make decisions. I managed to lead a team on the most challenging activity of the week, deciding upon the safest routes to take. I learnt the importance of everyone’s roles, safe working practices and the importance of everyone voicing their opinions. Personally, I learnt to believe in myself more and I gained more confidence. I realised that I am good at planning and helping to organise a team.’

‘Taking learning back to Ford, I feel that by planning activities and using a method process, success is easily achievable. I also feel that by having more confidence in my own ability will improve my personal performance.’

‘We learnt the importance of using people’s strengths to build a more successful team and this in turn made us individually successful’.

Comments received from Ford Senior Managers and Training Team were also very positive, an example of which is:

‘They have all returned to the Plant full of enthusiasm and stories about what they did during the week with you. They obviously loved all the activities and the food, even the night in the cave went down well as a great experience even though they may not want to repeat it again anytime soon. Just from talking to them I can see that the teamwork message has got through to them loud and clear. I’ve just spoken to their Mentor he can really see the value in packing out the week with activities and reviews. The theory is always as important as the practical and I think you managed to blend the two together very effectively.

The Engineering Manager enjoyed the presentation night too. He was impressed with the confidence of the presentation the apprentices gave and he said that they didn’t come across as first years, such was their level of engagement with the task and the effort they had put into their preparation.

Thank you once again for running the course for us and please thank all your instructors too as the apprentices are raving about how great they all were.’