#NAW2021: Navigating your late-term apprentice hires

The current landscape sees 57% of employers open their apprentice recruitment between October and December, with 42% then closing by March (ISE, 2019-20). Diversity also remains a central focus, with 89% of ISE members actively taking action to increase their diversity of hires. So, how do you meet your hiring targets when you are late to market?

Danny Matthews, Apprentice and Communication Resourcing Lead at the Co-op shared best practice from his experience of navigating a late-term hiring approach for apprenticeship roles in our latest webinar. He explains, “turning up to the party fashionably late is fine, but don’t arrive after everyone has left the party.” 

Some of his key insights:

  • Accessing students is now harder than ever, and reprioritization within education in response to Covid means the curriculum takes precedence over careers education. This presents a challenge when employers are still working to the same hiring deadlines that correlate with the academic calendar.
  • Especially now, there is much uncertainty in the candidate decision-making process at present, and a strong likelihood of many students taking the perceived ‘safer’ option of pursuing college or university as their first choice. Employers are having to work twice as hard to change these perceptions in the virtual world.
  • Employers are also having to face the challenges that come with virtual engagement strategies; there are many resources that share best practice for what ‘good’ looks like, and virtual means engagement can now be more geographically inclusive. Yet, this virtual engagement strategies are not more inclusive overall.
  • One of the biggest pitfalls – and common mistakes – is chasing numbers and prioritising quantity of hires over quality, attempting to fill an apprentice talent pool over investing in the quality of candidates. 
  • The key elements of a successful late-term hiring strategy includes investment in the candidate experience, utilising existing partnerships and networks to engage with talent, and provision of role offers prior to exam result days.

Acknowledging the lived experiences of young people in the current climate is particularly crucial, and employers need to recognise the areas in which their future and existing apprentices need support. The often negative media coverage surrounding the continued implications of Covid on apprentice employment mean young people are faced with uncertainty around taking their next career steps. 

Yet, there are some promising figures – 48% of young people registering for UCAS in 2020 were also interested in apprenticeships (up from 42% in 2019), and from our own MyKindaFuture digital events, we have experienced a 50% increase in attendance to apprenticeship-driven webinars from our young person network.

Harry Fletcher, current Level 4 Construction Apprentice at the Co-op, and Amy Ovall, current Level 7 Apprentice at Smith & Williamson, also joined the panel to share their own experiences of navigating the apprentice market. Here, we share some of the questions we put forward to them. 

What convinced you to do an apprenticeship, over university? Did you have any worries around pursuing an apprenticeship?

“The apprenticeship and work experience amounted to 5 years compared to 3 years at university and then a further 3 years completing the ACAs tests. Considering that I would have been in debt from university, and after 6 years of not receiving any work experience, the apprenticeship option seemed a much better choice for me. The only real concern for me was the social aspect of not attending university.” – Amy 

“As I suffer from dyslexia I knew I would find university challenging as it’s not my preference for my style of learning. That’s why I chose to do an apprenticeship as I learned that it didn’t necessarily hold you back from climbing up the career ladder.” – Harry 

What made you feel confident about your employer? How do you feel employers can market their apprentice opportunities best?

“Their reputation of being a top 10 company in their field. I became confident with the employers when doing the interviews and speaking to the other apprentices within the company. A great way to keep apprentices engaged is to get the employees to educate them about the culture and social aspects of the company. I benefited from having a mentor to help me do this, who was able to guide me and was someone I was able to confide in.” – Amy 

“Co-Op had the reputation of being one of the biggest firms in Manchester. During the assessment days I heard great success stories from previous apprentices and was encouraging to hear how much they achieved from the program and to hear the development opportunities.” – Harry 

In the virtual world, what do you need from your employer to feel supported and empowered through the recruitment journey and once in the role?

“During the application process the employer needs to really emphasise the qualifications you’ll get along the way with the apprenticeship that they are offering. Be able to show that there is progression after your apprenticeships and hear success stories from the program.” – Harry 

“At Smith and Williamson they support us virtually by having daily and weekly virtual catch team catch ups, avoid back-to-back calls, host virtual social events, receive monthly updates from the national heads, and share with us mental health videos.” – Amy 

If you missed it, you can watch the full webinar here

To find out how MyKindaFuture help you engage diverse future apprentices and support your late-term hiring strategy, let’s chat! Email us: team@mykindafuture.com