BA Share Best Practice for Attracting and Retaining Apprentices

In celebration of National Apprenticeship Week 2020, we hosted a best practice Lunch & Learn. Find out how to engage and retain apprentice talent at every stage of the hiring process, and how leveraging tech is the key to achieving it.

We interviewed the Head of Emerging Talent, Strategy and Resourcing, and a current BA apprentice. During the session they shared how best to identify, attract and retain diverse, high-quality talent pools, and how connectr played a part in this journey.

The Most Impactful Ways to Attract the Best, Most Diverse Talent

Helen Alkin, Head of Emerging Talent, Strategy and Resourcing, stepped into this new role last year. It was created to look at how BA are engaging with apprentice talent, and to form opportunities for students to come in and experience the organisation. With access to the existing talent on the connectr platform, students can see somebody they can relate to.

‘We are definitely looking at how we can provide meaningful opportunities, and find ways to keep those conversations going. The cliché, ‘You can’t be what you can’t see,’ is true. Being able to identify with those people is key.’

BA Project Management Apprentice, Jaya Ralhan, then shared the elements of applying that she found the most daunting.

‘The process wasn’t too bad, it was mind over matter. I found it difficult to talk about myself, as I thought there were so many people who were also applying and must have more experience than me. Moving forward, I would encourage future applicants to take advantage of the resources and support available to make your application stand out.’

Going into her apprenticeship, Jaya had fears around whether she would be taken seriously. ‘You don’t want to feel like you’re under-skilled, but of course you’re going to be because that’s the whole learning journey.’

What Role Does Early Engagement Play in Apprentice Recruitment?

Helen said that one of the biggest opportunities BA saw was when they strategically made the decision to link the outreach activity into her team. This ensured there was a facility to engage the students when they left school.

They run a range of different dedicated workshops and events, specifically targeted to teachers, bringing them into the organisation for a taster day. With just over 2,500 students engaged with them through connectr, they’re able to access a different range of learning modules. Consequently, the students can really see what a career in aviation looks like, and they can then prepare for what they should be putting on their CV. Being able to connect with apprentices, graduates, and individuals within the organisation helped them navigate their career path.

What guidance did you receive about apprenticeships through school?

Jaya’s experience was that there wasn’t any guidance on apprenticeships available, or tips on how to apply to them. Her school offered advice on university applications alone, and it was felt that apprenticeships were seen as an ‘if all else fails’ approach.

Not feeling ready to go to uni, Jaya saw the BA Project Management application and felt it would deliver the skills she wanted to gain, whilst still learning.

How do you maintain candidate engagement post offer acceptance?

BA looked at how they can add in more contact points, and have an on-boarding site that is more tailored to the student market.

‘We have a responsibility to build their excitement and alleviate any concerns they have. We help them start that network and give them tools to go from the world of education, to the world of work.’

How do you market yourself as an employer of choice to students?

‘The focus for us has been around working hard, and developing a more content rich strategy, through internal apprentices opening the curtains on our organisation a bit more. We have experienced student ambassadors with whom we work really hard to build the connection with for those upcoming school leavers. Subsequently, we’ve seen a real increase in engagement, and in students sharing their insights.’

What do you look for in an employer?

‘The brand stood out,’ Jaya said, adding, ‘BA has felt like home for as long as I can remember. My family members have worked there for years. From there, I researched apprenticeship schemes and felt like BA’s would give me the next step. I’ve been able to challenge myself in ways I never really imagined. I’ve been able to grow myself as a Project Executive and I feel I made the right decision in going to this employer. BA has that special place in my heart, as cringey as that may sound!’

And lastly, what are the challenges with building an apprenticeship journey?

For BA, it’s about helping the organisation and joining up all the dots. When you’re talking different business areas, it helps to bring a more holistic approach to emerging talent. Firstly, working with each of the directors in the business to figure out what skills are needed. Secondly, using that to build out where a graduate journey and an apprenticeship journey might be applicable. BA have historically run a graduate program with huge success, and though they want to continue with those graduate pipelines, it’s necessary to bring in talent at an earlier stage.

Reflections

Many employers are realising there’s talent in the pool of 50% of students who don’t go to university. Overall, we’re seeing a large amount of talent in places where employers didn’t previously look.