You’ve decided to maximise your levy, work with your teams and a training provider to develop an awesome apprenticeship programme that will give you a pipeline of talented staff ready to become your skilled workforce of tomorrow. Everything is good to go and then…
The quality of applicants is woeful. They have no passion for the industry, they haven’t researched the company and they don’t seem interested in the opportunity you have available. Or, worse still, they sound like they could be a great asset at interview, but drop out as soon as a better paid summer job comes along.
These are common problems that employers face when recruiting apprentices. But there are ways you can minimise these risks and attract the right people that want to learn, develop and become an integral part of your organisation.
So how do you do that? Here are a few tips:
Make sure your advert is connecting with the right people
The first thing to do is get the job advert right. When creating the job description and person specification, think carefully about the audience you are looking to engage. Are you using too much jargon? Do you have the right expectations?
Many young people – particularly those looking for their first job – will have limited experience of the world of work. Using technical jargon or looking for a range of prior experiences might create barriers that stops great people from applying.
Apprenticeships also give you an opportunity to diversify your workforce and attract young talent that might not usually consider your industry. There is no harm in reassuring applicants from a range of backgrounds that they’d be welcome and encouraged to apply.
If your industry is male dominated for example, it’s a good idea to tell applicants that your workplace is inclusive and supportive. Perhaps there are social groups just for women that you could mention that will help demonstrate to applicants your inclusive credentials.
Use the training provider to find and screen applicants – but be clear!
Some training providers offer to recruit and screen applicants on your behalf. This can save you a great deal of time and HR and is worth doing, as long as you are clear what you are looking for.
Give the training provider a clear brief on who you expect to make the shortlist. Make sure they are searching for applicants from a range of ages and backgrounds. It’s important that providers are not only reaching out to young people on existing courses but engaging as many people as possible that meet the criteria.
If you want to do the recruitment yourself, don’t just rely on jobs boards or even recruitment agencies to attract young people. You could, for example, consider talking directly to schools, youth organisations and job centres too – as well as using the government’s official find an apprenticeship website.
Remember the mantra ‘recruit for attitude, train for skill’
Unlike other appointments where you need someone up-to-speed from day one, apprenticeships are about giving someone an opportunity to learn the role on-the-job.
This means it’s important not to be too distracted by applicants with previous qualifications and experience. Apprentices will develop the skills you need during the apprenticeship programme. Instead, make sure you’re clear what attributes you want an apprentice to have on day one and set interview tasks or ask questions that will tease this out.
As an example, many employers want someone that’s reliable – someone who is willing to work as a team and get stuck in where needed. Perhaps you could run a recruitment day with activities that allowed apprentices to demonstrate those attributes.
A constructive interview
Interviews are a two-way process. This is your opportunity to sell your company and the progression routes available to the apprentice. Remember, apprentice wages are often lower than fully qualified wages, so applicants need to be reassured that you are offering an opportunity that helps them long-term.
From an apprentice’s point of view, they are making a sacrifice in wages now, because they can see the fulfilling career opportunity they are working towards. If they don’t get that message, they may take the apprenticeship, but then select a higher-wage, short-term opportunity elsewhere as soon as an opportunity becomes available.
It’s also worth remembering not to make the interview process too formal for entry-level apprenticeships. Some young people won’t have had expert or family help to prepare. It may well be their first interview experience where they are unsure of the right etiquette or are extremely nervous.
Consider what you can do to help them feel relaxed and confident so they can show you their best selves. Also consider the type of feedback you could give at each stage, even when a candidate is unsuccessful – you may have some valuable insight to help them on their journey.
SDN is a team of impartial apprenticeship experts – a trusted partner for employers across the country. If you need support to launch or improve your apprenticeship programmes, we can help.
Here’s some examples of the work we do with employers:
- Understanding apprenticeships and the levy
- Developing an apprenticeship strategy
- Mapping apprenticeship content to the training needs of your business
- Procuring training and establishing relationships with providers
- Training apprentices’ mentors and line managers
- Reviewing and improving your apprenticeship programme
- Support to self-deliver your own apprenticeship training
For an informal chat – contact us.