Five tips for recruiting apprentices

sarah linkedinBy Sarah Crocker, Client Solutions Director

On Monday I was delighted to attend the YMCA Training Apprenticeship awards which celebrates and recognises achievement by apprentices and employers across the UK. ResourceBank sponsored two of the awards and, talking to the winners and other companies at the event, I was impressed by the stories of development and success that we heard. At ResourceBank we’re no strangers to apprenticeship schemes. We have managed the recruitment of apprentices on behalf of a number of clients for more than seven years. At the award event I shared some ideas and tips with a number of HR professionals and it has prompted me to write this blog sharing my top 5 tips for companies looking at apprenticeship recruitment:


 1. Have a bespoke approach

If you have not recruited apprentices before, just stop and think about the approach and process you are going to use. It is likely your recruitment processes will need to change to fit this requirement. Adjust your recruitment practices to the skill and experience level of a young person – think about how you will assess and what might be the best way to do this.

2. Be social and mobile friendly

It goes without saying that candidate attraction and the application process needs to be social and mobile friendly. Reach out to young people proactively through online platforms, don’t just rely on Find an Apprenticeship. Go out to market. Use your attraction strategy to also try and engage people who may not have started thinking about Apprenticeships yet! Link all this activity together through social media and link to your own careers site.

3. Assess appropriately

Review your screening/assessment practices. Ensure you are clear on what you are assessing and consider a skill-based/strength based interview approach rather than competency based. It is quite likely that the majority of candidates will be aged 16 – 24 and therefore might not have a great deal of experience outside of the educational environment – an obvious one I know, but still worth mentioning! By tailoring your questions to reflect this, you will be able to gain a greater insight into their attitudes and behaviours and how they might transfer these to a working environment.

4. Candidate focus

Three main aspects to this one; 1) don’t use too much jargon in your advertising campaigns and communications; 2) ensure your recruitment team are knowledgeable ; and 3) ensure you provide comprehensive feedback to candidates. When recruiting apprentices for our client organisations we develop strong working partnerships. We ensure our team of recruiters understand the apprentice programme and have the knowledge and skills to be able to assess candidates appropriately and to be able to answer any candidates’ questions. We ensure every person that has attended an interview (we do this for all our recruitment activity, not just for apprentices!) receives verbal feedback as to why they were not successful. All our team members are trained in how to give feedback in a constructive and positive manner – something that is particularly important when dealing with inexperienced candidates.

5. Promote to colleges and parents

Many of your candidates will still be at school or college when considering their options and they will rely on advice from parents and from lecturers. Make sure you communicate directly to local colleges – particularly those that have a specific course relevant to your business. For one of our customers in the Aerospace industry, we developed direct links with colleges that had engineering related courses, and as a result these colleges encourage students to attend our client’s open days. Parents also play an important role in advising candidates on which apprenticeship to apply to, and we recommend having specific information available for parents (which covers the “sensible” topics such as training, long term development opportunities, pension and other benefits).

These are the top five tips that I have – although there are many other factors that you need to consider when recruiting for apprentices.If you have established a successful apprenticeship programme then I’d love to hear your views on what has been the biggest challenge and what would be in your top 5 tips!

If you’d like to hear more about our bespoke recruitment service for apprenticeships then please give me a call on 07734 972681 or enquire here:

Sarah Crocker
Client Solutions Director


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