How employers are resourcing early career development in 2022

Apr 14, 2022 | Development

What impact has the pandemic had on how organisations resource early career development in 2022? ISE’s researcher Nicola Thomas explains.

As we move into the post pandemic workplace, attracting and retaining graduates and apprentices is becoming increasingly more important to organisations.

A key part in retaining early career hires is to ensure that as an organisation you are offering them a great experience during their graduate development programme or apprenticeship, making sure they have the skills needed to be successful in their future careers.

Nicola Thomas, head of research at ISE, takes a deep dive into ISE’s Student Development Survey 2022 to understand what influence internal strategic issues have when it comes to managing development initiatives, as well as, the external factors impacting organisational development practices in 2022.


Development team size varies across sectors

It’s important that organisations properly resource their development programmes if they want to ensure successful outcomes for their early career hires.

This does not only extend to the budget they allocate for development, but also making sure they have enough staff members in their development team to source and deliver high quality development opportunities.

In the ISE Development Survey 2022, we found that size of development teams varied largely across businesses.

The average size of a development team overall was 20 members of staff, however the most common team size for a development team in an organisation was five.

We also saw a large difference in team size between sectors, with the charity & public sector having the largest development teams with a median of 10 members of staff. Meanwhile the health and pharmaceutical sector had the smallest teams on average with only a median of three members of staff in their development teams.


The impact of Covid-19 on development spend

More than a third (37%) of organisations reported that they were spending less on development because of Covid-19. Most of the cost saving was attributed to a pivot towards more remote or hybrid development activities.

Across all organisations 71% of early career inductions were delivered virtually in 2022. Most employers indicated that their delivery of remote or hybrid development activities was expected to be a permanent move.This demonstrates a large shift strategically in how organisations are planning on delivering their development programmes moving forwards.

However, it’s important to note that this change in development delivery strategy does not mean a repriortiation of their development programmes overall.

The move to a permanent remote delivery of development activities may result in some cost saving, but this should not be taken as a sign that organisations are looking to directly cut costs when it comes to early career development. In fact, 45% of respondents reported that they were spending what they expected for their development activities, while 13% reported that they were spending more than they had previously.

The median development budget for early career hires at a typical organisation had also increased to £275,00 in 2022, this was an increase of £80,000 compared to 2021. Meaning that organisations are spending more this year on their graduate development activities than they were in the year before.

Budgets variued across sectors, with the legal sector reporting the largest average development budget with an median spend of £720,800 for their early career programmes..

This is a reassuring sign that the temporary savings in early career development we saw during the pandemic has not resulted in a permanent cost reduction for most organisations.


An increased focused on apprenticeships

The majority (87%) of employers responded that they were recruiting apprentices in 2022. Employers also reported that they were spending an average of 47% of the apprenticeship levy. This is the highest average spend of the levy reported by the ISE to date, in comparison, organisations only used 32% of the apprenticeship levy on average in 2021.This shows that the use of the apprenticeship levy has hugely increased this year compared to its initial stagnation during the pandemic.

The energy, engineering & industry sector reportedly spent the largest amount of the levy,  averaging around 70%. Meanwhile the legal sector spent the lowest amount of the levy using only 13% on average.


Average proportion of the apprenticeship levy currently spent

More than half (58%) of organisations reported that they did not make any distinction between their apprenticeships and used the same name for all. Meanwhile, 41% used a different name for their apprenticeship schemes depending on the different levels of development, such as traineeship programmes vs graduate apprentices.

The majority of employers reported that they ran an externally provided apprenticeship programme (62%) with only 17% of respondents delivering their own apprenticeship as an employer provider.

On average, 79% of school and college leavers were enrolled in an apprenticeship programme within their organisations. However, this varied across sectors with 100% of school and college leavers from the health and pharmaceutical sector being part of an apprenticeship scheme.

Some employers also use the apprenticeship levy to develop their graduate hires. However, this was less common with only 17% of graduates being enrolled in an apprenticeship scheme. This did however vary across sections, with 40% of graduates in the finance and professional services being enrolled in an apprenticeship scheme.



The latest Student Development Survey shines a positive light on development resourcing in 2022.

Despite the decrease in development spend during the pandemic, we are now seeing organisations ramping up their spend on their early career development programmes again with increased budgets for 2022.

We see a strategic shift in 2022 towards employers making a permanent move to remote or hybrid development activities. Long term this will allow them to increase their pool of graduate talent and ability to recruit early career hires from across the country.

It’s also encouraging to see that employers are now becoming more savvy with the use of the apprenticeship levy, after it remained stagnant for most of the pandemic. This has led to an increase in the number of employers bringing onboard school and college leavers to their organisations via apprenticeships compared to previous years.

Read more from ISE’s development survey and research

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