How Apprenticeships Are Changing Early Careers

7 Minutes
June 24, 2022

Apprenticeships are an invaluable tool for your business. With a growing talent pool, numerous young people are opting to seek out early career opportunities instead of attending higher education. A recent study completed by the Institute of Student Employers found that on average 79% of school and college leavers enrolled in an apprenticeship scheme during 2022. Of course, this percentage varies significantly by industry, however, the trend is extremely positive and shows great growth for apprenticeships in general.  

Firstly, why hire an apprentice?

There has been a lot of recent research on the impact of apprenticeships, which has been overwhelmingly positive. Here are some of the top facts and statistics:

Understand that apprenticeships have changed

Who do you picture when you think of an apprentice? Perhaps a 16-year-old school leaver who wants to fast track into the working world and cannot wait to earn a wage. But this is not always the case, whilst many of the individuals within this talent pool are school/college leavers aged between 16-18 there are other viable routes to enter apprenticeship schemes.

Apprenticeships are not only a valuable option for school leavers but also graduates. They can be a catalyst for a career change and a fantastic opportunity for pursuing other interests. Therefore, tailoring your recruitment process to suit your target apprenticeship candidates is an imperative component of ensuring the attainment of top-quality talent.  

One of our key utility clients offer a multitude of apprenticeships at entry, mid and senior level, allowing their apprentices to work towards professional qualifications whilst earning a salary. The apprenticeship scheme allows for on the job training, working alongside experienced professionals, providing a strong grounding for their chosen career. Many of our clients have found that hiring apprentices is a great way to develop valuable, well-trained individuals for the organisation.

Constant communication is key to maintain engagement with candidates

It is critical to maintain regular communication with candidates throughout the application process. Updates on the status of their application at regular intervals can help to preserve the candidate's interest in your position.  

For most recruitment campaigns, a large majority of candidates will disengage between the application and interview process. This is primarily due to extended time frames between key milestones in the recruitment process and a lack of communication. Therefore, it is important for your business to maximise candidate engagement throughout.

You want candidates to find out more about the role and your organisation. Ongoing communication throughout the recruitment process is critical for a positive candidate experience. Consider a programme or schedule of regular updates for your candidates, providing feedback on their progress. This allows the candidate to gain an insight and a realistic expectation of the apprenticeship. Remember, failure to communicate effectively could result in early employee attrition.  

How can remote interviewing improve your recruitment process?

Remote hiring is here to stay. The benefits of improved access, speed, and ease of use are unrivalled, but you need to do your bit to ace this relatively new process. Offering remote interview and testing options for apprenticeships will place your business ahead of the competition and comes with the added benefits of lower costs, increased diversity pools and no travel times.

So, what other benefits are there to interviewing remotely?

  • Significant reduction in time to hire, many of our clients onboard candidates in less than 4 weeks including pre-screening, video interviews and assessments.  
  • Removes location and time zone restraints for candidates
  • Allows the use of assessment tools that can be tailored to your exact needs, such as pre-screening and situational judgement tests  
  • Offers you as the employer the ability to demonstrate your brand and tone of voice

Create an employer brand that attracts top talent

Your employer brand reflects how candidates perceive you. Aligning your business to the type of candidate you want to hire can make your job offering considerably more attractive. Fortunately, there are many ways for your business to effectively do this.  

Tone of voice is a key component in how candidates will perceive your brand. This should be clearly identifiable throughout all avenues of your business and assessment process. Without a consistent tone of voice, your business could be missing out on a great opportunity for candidates to align themselves with your brand.  

Social media is another great tool for establishing your brand allowing candidates to explore your business in more depth. Throughout its various platforms your business can share content that is more personal, in turn providing candidates with great insight into your business culture. Being proactive on social media can demonstrate that your company culture is engaging and dynamic, which is key to engaging top talent.  

Simply put, your brand has a big impact on your company’s reputation as an employer. Check out this article from Glassdoor to learn more. If your company has a bad reputation, it will not only increase your cost per hire but also push the best talent away.

Outline your minimum requirements

Entry-level apprenticeships

For entry-level apprenticeships, you must ensure that you have realistic candidate expectations. Candidates for these vacancies are often younger and will have little to no work experience. This means that your focus should be on identifying their core competencies. Effective communication, literacy, numeracy, and problem-solving skills are all great foundations for an apprentice to have. These skills can then be developed further by you through internal and external training programmes to advance the employee.

Mid to senior level apprenticeships

Typically, a mid to senior-level apprenticeship will be targeted at a graduate or post-graduate applicant. The more senior the apprenticeship, the greater your minimum requirements can be. Candidates applying for mid to senior-level apprenticeships are more likely to have evidence of industry-specific skills and experience.

Once you have agreed upon the foundations of what you expect from the candidate, you can then develop an engaging job description that will assist in identifying appropriate candidates. This description should vary in complexity based on the opportunity you are looking to fill. For example, an entry-level apprenticeship should be written so that the target applicants can easily understand what the role is and what is expected from them.  

Higher level apprenticeships can request advance qualifications and more in-depth subject knowledge. It is imperative that your business is flexible with the development of its recruitment processes for each level of apprenticeship. Doing so can offer better talent attraction and sustained candidate engagement.  

Develop a sustainable support system

For many candidates, especially those applying for entry-level apprenticeships, these opportunities are their first taste of working for a business. As such apprentices will require more input from you. A great way of doing this is by providing them with a mentor, someone who has experience of your organisation. This doesn’t always need to be a senior team member; it could be a current incumbent apprentice.

The role of this mentor should not only be limited to on-the-job training but should also be to provide wellbeing, support and guidance. You could also include them in your recruitment process too! As an example, you could let them record introduction videos for your online assessments as this will put the potential candidate at ease.

Measuring candidate performance is another vital component to your business, that’s why we recommend that you review it often. Gaining apprentice feedback regularly from both themselves and their mentor will provide you with a better idea of how their skills are developing and knowledge gaps. From there you can set goals within measurable timeframes for the individual. This is a great method of sustaining a candidate's motivation to learn and desire to progress within your business.  

Project the positives  

Traditionally, apprenticeship schemes are low-earning positions. In many cases, candidates value the potential experience gained more than the potential earnings they can accumulate. In recent years, these apprenticeship schemes have even become a popular alternative to university.  

The average apprentice in the North West is paid £17,488* per year, meaning they’d be likely to earn £52k over three years, while their peers at University rack up a similar amount in debt. (source: Fenews). From a financial perspective an apprentice would be in a better position than a graduate student. Either as a school leaver apprentice attending college or an undergraduate following a paid degree scheme apprenticeship.  

Currently, it is estimated that the monetary gap between an apprentice and undergraduate reaches around £100,000 by the time a university student completes their degree. As an employer targeting apprentices, this is a great USP to attract apprentices into your business, giving them the opportunity to earn whilst learning on the job.

If your business is looking to make its apprenticeship positions more attractive, be sure to highlight the employee advantages your business offers. Remote working, flexible hours and recognising family commitments are prime examples of modern benefits that top talent value the most.

Tazio’s digital assessment tools can help your business to streamline its apprenticeship recruitment strategy. Whether it be our Virtual Assessment Centres or Situational Judgement Tests, Tazio’s tools can be completely customised to your business's needs. Saving you time and money, ensuring that you take advantage of the available top talent.

To learn more about how Tazio assessment tools could benefit your recruitment strategy, get in touch with one of our friendly experts.


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