How apprenticeships are changing early careers

Apprenticeship recruitment
Tom Stroud
Reading time:
7 Minutes
October 25, 2022

Apprenticeships are an invaluable tool for your business. With a growing talent pool, numerous young individuals are opting to take early career pathways 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.  

Whilst this percentage varies significantly dependent on the industry, it is extremely positive for apprenticeships in general and shows great growth across the board.  

Should you consider an apprentice?

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

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, itching to earn a wage. Whilst many of the individuals within this talent pool are school/college leavers aged between 16-18, there is now a large majority that does not fit this stereotype.

Modern-day apprentices can be anyone from any background. This shift has been facilitated by the various new routes and options available for entering apprenticeship schemes, some of which aren’t suited to the typical apprentice candidate.

Apprenticeships are now a viable option for both school leavers and university graduates. They can prove to be the catalyst for a career change and a fantastic opportunity for pursuing other interests.  

Therefore, you should tailor your recruitment process to suit the type of apprentice you need. Successfully implementing this approach can ensure the attainment and retainment of top-quality talent.  

One of Tazio’s clients offers a great example of this in practice. Offering apprenticeships at entry, mid and senior levels. This allows their apprentices to work towards professional qualifications, therefore filling in skills gaps, whilst still earning a salary. Their apprenticeship scheme also allows for on the job training and provides apprentices the opportunity to work alongside experienced professionals. In turn, laying the foundations for their future in the company.  

Many of our clients have found that hiring apprentices at various levels is a great way to develop valuable, well-trained individuals for the organisation.

Communication drives engagement

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

For most recruitment drives, a large majority of candidates will “drop-off” between the application and interview process. This is a result of the extended amounts of time between the two milestones, during which there is little to communicate back to the candidate. Therefore, it is important for your business to maximise candidate engagement in the stages prior to, and, after this “gap”.

Consider a programme or schedule consisting of regular updates to your candidates, providing feedback on their progress or when you plan on being in contact next. This allows the candidate to gain insight and a realistic expectation of the assessment process and the company itself. Remember, failure to communicate effectively could result in unnecessary candidate attrition in the assessment process.  

Consider a remote hiring process

Remote hiring is here to stay. The benefits of improved access, speed, and ease of use are unrivalled. However, you need to do your bit, in order to ace this 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 greater flexibility for candidates.

So, what other benefits are there to interviewing remotely?

  • Significant reduction in time to hire. Many of Tazio’s clients that use remote hiring usually onboard candidates in less than 4 weeks. This includes pre-screening, video interviews and multiple assessments.  
  • Removes location and time zone restraints for candidates. Allowing them to complete the interview or assessment at a place/time of their choice.
  • Allows the use of question types and tools that can be tailored to your exact needs. E.g., pre-screening, Situational Judgement Tests, Realistic Job Previews, and much more.  
  • Offers you, the employer, the ability to demonstrate your brand and tone of voice. Thanks to the flexibility of the Tazio platform, you can create a unique experience that ties into your organisational culture and values.

Good branding attracts talent

Your employer brand heavily reflects on how candidates perceive you. Aligning your business to suit the type of candidate you want to hire can make your job offering uniquely more attractive.  

Really nailing this process can be difficult, however, there are a few things you should consider to make the job easier.  

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 and allowing candidates to explore your business in more depth. Throughout the various platforms your business can share content on, it is important to be personal on at least one of them. Doing so will provide candidates with a unique insight into your business's personality.

Being proactive on social media can also demonstrate that your company culture is engaging and dynamic, which is key to attracting the top apprenticeship talent.  

Simply put, your brand has a big impact on your company’s reputation as an employer. Check out this article from Glassdoor if you’d like to learn more.  

Identify your minimum requirements

Entry-level apprenticeships

For entry-level apprenticeships, you must ensure that you have realistic candidate expectations. Candidates applying for these vacancies will often be younger, with little to no work experience. This means that your focus should be on identifying their core competencies and hiring for potential.  

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. Advancing the employee in a way that helps to fill your current skills gaps.

Mid to senior level apprenticeships

Typically, a mid to senior-level apprenticeship will be filled by a candidate at a graduate or post-graduate level. Individuals applying for these roles are more likely to have evidence of industry-specific skills and experience. Therefore, the more senior your apprenticeship is, the greater your minimum requirements can be.

Once you have agreed upon the foundations of what you expect from the candidate, you must then develop an engaging job description. Creating this will assist in delivery of appropriate candidates to your recruitment funnel.  

Typically, your job 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 should request advanced or targeted qualifications, as well as a deeper knowledge of the specific industry.  

It is great to remind yourself that you should always be flexible and open to change, during the development of your recruitment processes. Even more so if you are hiring for various levels of apprenticeship. Not being afraid of change and offering greater levels of candidate flexibility will ultimately result in sustained attraction to your positions and noteworthy levels of candidate engagement.  

Develop a sustainable support system

For many candidates, especially those applying for entry-level apprenticeships, these opportunities are their first taste of corporate employment. As such, apprentices may often require more input and guidance from you.  

A great way of achieving this is by providing them with a mentor, someone who has experience in your organisation. This doesn’t always need to be a senior team member; however, it needs to be someone that is confident in supporting a new member of the team. Ideally this mentor or buddy should also work in the same department as the apprentice.  

The role of this mentor should be to provide some on-the-job training, as well as wellbeing support and general guidance. You could also include these individuals in your recruitment process. As an example, let them record introductory videos for your online assessments. This will help to put the potential candidate at ease, as it promotes a more human like connection with your business.

Measuring apprentice performance is another vital component to your business, that’s why we recommend that you review it often. Gaining feedback regularly from both apprentice and their mentor will provide you with a better idea of how their skills are developing and what their current knowledge gaps are.  

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, with many candidates valuing the potential experience gained over the potential earnings they can accumulate. In recent years, apprenticeship schemes have even become a popular alternative to higher education.  

The average apprentice working in the North West of the UK 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, being an apprentice is very attractive, regardless of its seniority. Whether you're a school leaver, or an undergraduate taking part in an apprenticeship whilst studying scheme, many individuals seem to be favouring the benefits.

Currently, it is estimated that the financial 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 candidates into your business, providing 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 also highlight the employee benefits 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.

Tom Stroud

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