Attracting and recruiting apprentices

May 25, 2018 | Apprentices & school leaver, Attraction & marketing

Simon Reichwald of MyKindaFuture and Honorary VP for the ISE, shares advice on effectively attracting and recruiting apprentices.

Regardless of how many apprentices you recruit, you need a solution that works for your organisation. As with graduate recruitment, early engagement is key but in more ways than one…

1. if you want to persuade more young people to go down the apprenticeship route and apply for your opportunities, then you need to engage students earlier in schools and colleges. At least in Year 12 and importantly, for STEM careers, much earlier.

Schools and colleges historically know and understand the timings for UCAS, but they will not be as familiar with your recruitment processes. The UCAS process starts early in the autumn term, so the longer you leave it to start engaging, the smaller your talent pool will be.

2. You should open for applications in the autumn term (not spring term or summer). A third of ISE members already do this, so it is likely that some of your competition is active at this stage.

3. Link your work experience programme into your future talent pipeline.


When approaching schools, you should have very clear learning outcomes for engaging their students and avoid delivering a recruitment message alone. You have the opportunity to up-skill here and grow your employer brand.

Face-to-face engagement for students is an absolute fundamental; so to be effective you will need to go into schools. Lots of school engagement can be costly and resource heavy, so consider collaborating with other local employers. Promote your sector first and the roles second.

Peer-to-peer communication can have a huge impact, so look to bring your existing apprentices into schools – ideally into the school or the area they went to.

Face-to-face alone wont get you consistent quality year-on-year, so provide a digital and easy way to continue communicating with young people who are keen.

Teachers spend 70% of their time in front of students teaching, leaving just 30% for everything else. They can be tough to get hold of, especially if you don’t know which teacher to go to in the first place. Tweak your communication and messaging for teachers, parents and students. These are all vital stakeholders, but they need different levels of communication.

Remember to be open and transparent about the role, training, and salary. As there are still widespread and negative misconceptions around apprenticeship salaries.

Two ‘takeaways’ to consider when it comes to shaping your processes:
• Mirror the UCAS process and timelines – or get ahead of them.
• ‘Train first, then assess’ which means prepare and support these students for your assessment centre. Otherwise you risk poor conversion rates and mainly hiring advantaged young people – not making the impact on your diversity agenda that apprenticeships offer.

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