Recruiting Apprentices in a Candidate-Driven Market

Recruiting apprentices

In a survey by HR Director, talent recruitment and attraction was one of the top five challenges cited by HR professionals in the UK for 2022. Record numbers of vacancies, young people’s uncertainty about their future and a lack of careers guidance in schools and colleges have combined to result in a situation where recruiting apprentices for entry-level roles isn’t easy. The good news is that there are many things that employers can do to dramatically increase their chances of recruiting the right candidate.

Think About Your Offer

In a candidate-driven market, one of the best ways to attract more quality applicants is to offer a competitive salary. The minimum apprentice salary from April 2022 is £4.81 per hour but we strongly recommend to all of our employers that they offer above this. The average salary across all apprenticeship vacancies on Get My First Job, the main job board we use, is actually currently £6.22 per hour (4 March 2022). Offering a higher salary is particularly important if your location is outside of a main city centre/difficult to get to on public transport or if your organisation is limited in other employee benefits it offers.

One of they key reasons that people consider the apprenticeship pathway is because of the progression opportunities it may offer. In the current market, it is not enough to simply state that there will be the possibility of a permanent opportunity for someone who successfully completes their apprenticeship. Think about what that permanent opportunity could be in terms of job title and duties, and also what progression could be possible even further ahead. Could there be the possibility of moving into a team leader or co-ordinating role? Would there be the option to get experience in different teams and departments? If you’ve had a previous successful apprentice, you can draw on their journey as an example.

Another key aspect which people consider when looking at different job roles is additional employee benefits. Many organisations have improved their offer to employees over recent months, including hybrid/flexible working options, staff discounts, social events, health and wellbeing initiatives and additional holidays.

Take Time Writing the Advert

If you have a job description for the apprenticeship role, it can be tempting to just cut and paste this content into the vacancy advert, but a job description is a formal and functional document that describes duties and responsibilities; it’s not going to excite anyone about your job!

Job titles – keep it simple and obvious. The people coming across your vacancy advert may have never applied, or looked for, a professional role before. They won’t necessarily know what very specific job titles mean and they certainly won’t be searching for those terms on job boards. Business Admin Apprentice is much better than something like Operations Associate Apprentice.

Short descriptions – this is a one or two sentence snippet, designed to entice applicants to read more so make it sound interesting. Use some buzz words (e.g. exciting, rewarding, excellent) and capture anything unique about the role: “We have an exciting vacancy for a customer service apprentice at our new offices in Manchester city centre. We’re a small, welcoming company offering excellent career progression opportunities.”

Duties – this is an important section because it gives the person an insight into what they would actually do in the role on a day to day basis. You will have a bullet point list of duties/responsibilities in your job description but these will probably need some editing for the advert. Get rid of any jargon or overly formal and convoluted language (e.g. “Provide a general reception service at the front desk” could be much more simply put as “Work on reception”) and aim for five to ten bullet points. Too few and the person can’t get enough of a sense of what the job role involves; too many and they will stop reading.

Company descriptions – don’t just state what industry sector you are a part of, bring your company to life! Is your team/company small or big, new or established? What are your offices like? What is the company culture and what is it like to work there?

Progression and Benefits – you’ve spent some time thinking about what progression opportunities and benefits you offer, so make sure you include them in your apprenticeship job advert.

Be Responsive

Good candidates will apply for multiple vacancies at any one time and will get snapped up quickly so you can’t afford to be slow in getting back to people. When you get CVs, review them within one to two working days and let the applicant know whether or not they have been successful in securing an interview. It is good practice to set aside some days for interviews when the vacancy first goes live so you can give a time slot as soon as a candidate is shortlisted. It’s also important to give feedback within one to two working days following the interview. We have experience of offering apprenticeship roles to candidates on behalf of employers a week or two after the interview, to find that the candidate has already accepted an offer elsewhere, meaning that the employer has to begin the recruitment process over again.  

Create a Welcoming Atmosphere

Nearly all of us get nervous at interviews, but this can be especially true for someone who is completely new to the process. Make the process comfortable and clear for candidates, so they know what to expect during the interview and be supportive and welcoming on the day. It doesn’t need to be an intense grilling! In fact, employers should remember that the interview is just as much about the candidate deciding whether they want the job, as it is about you deciding whether you want to offer them the role.

Employers who are able to follow all these hints and tips are much more likely to find themselves attracting and recruiting the best candidates, which will inject fresh talent into the team and make a positive impact on the overall organisation.

If you’re interested in recruiting an apprentice into an entry-level role in business admin, legal admin, medical admin, customer service, travel or accounting, get in touch with our business development team today.