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Clear info & transparent recruitment practices needed to fill unmatched apprenticeship vacancies

While some Apprenticeship programmes, such as those in aviation operations, costume design, plumbing and music business, attracted 40 or more applications per vacancy last year, others were less popular with candidates, according to analysis of the online applications received via the NAS website.

& lsquo;The match factor – Good practice in apprenticeship recruitment’ report explores the reasons why some Apprenticeship vacancies go unfilled. In order to overcome these mismatches, the report outlines a number of recommendations for learning providers, employers and Apprenticeship candidates, including:

Learning providers and employers should adopt & lsquo;youth-friendly’ recruitment practices. This involves ensuring that adverts for vacancies are clear and free of jargon, providing feedback to unsuccessful candidates, and also considering those candidates for similar or future positions.

Employers and learning providers could do more to raise the profile of Apprenticeships and gain parents’ buy-in and engagement. Young people and their parents need clearer information on the pay and career prospects of Apprenticeships to challenge common misconceptions about the sorts of professions they cover and encourage candidates to apply for jobs that fit them best. While many Apprenticeships start with a relatively modest wage compared to other entry-level roles, candidates need a longer-term perspective to see how an Apprenticeship can help them progress and earn higher salaries further down the line.

Learning providers should also seek to build and highlight the long-term business benefits of Apprenticeships when working with employers and not mis-sell them as a source of & lsquo;cheap labour’.

Apprenticeship candidates should tailor their Apprenticeship application to the specific industry, employer and job description and avoid using a & lsquo;scatter-gun’ approach to apply for hundreds of vacancies. They should also be encouraged to proactively seek out careers information advice and guidance and to ensure they ask questions before and during an Apprenticeship to avoid disappointments.

Katerina R&uumldiger, Head of Skills and Policy Campaigns at the CIPD, comments: “When done properly, Apprenticeships are an excellent way to reach out to a wide talent pool and allow employers to grow their own, ensuring they have the future skills their organisation needs to succeed. Via the CIPD’s Learning to Work programme, we know that many employers recognise the need to bring more young people into their organisation and are increasingly using Apprenticeships as a way to do this. However, some employers may be wondering why their Apprenticeship programmes are not attracting enough, or the right, applicants. Working closely with Apprenticeship learning providers during the recruitment process is vital. Some recruitment practices such as lengthy and unclear job descriptions and workplace jargon can create a barrier and deter young people from applying. It’s the responsibility of both providers and employers to ensure recruitment practices are youth-friendly to ensure they get the right candidate for the vacancy.”

Sue Husband, Director of Apprenticeships at the Skills Funding Agency comments:  “We commissioned the CIPD to carry out this research to review Apprenticeship recruitment and also to look at good practice across the sector.  The research is timely as further progress on the Apprenticeship reforms is placing employers firmly at the heart of the skills system.” 

“We will continue to work closely with employers and providers examining how they will be supported when recruiting apprentices in the future. We will also consider the wider recommendations made in the report, which will contribute to the work the Agency is already carrying out such as our good practice guides for employers, partners and apprentices and webinars for both employers and providers.”

The report has been published alongside an updated version of the CIPD’s & lsquo;Apprenticeships that work’ guide, which provides practical guidance for employers on introducing Apprenticeships. The guide includes best practice examples from a number of organisations currently running successful Apprenticeship programmes, including Barclays, Telefonica and smaller businesses such as north-west England based nursery group, Kids Allowed.

Commenting, Carla Rogers, Director of People and Operations at Kids Allowed, said: “Since launching our Apprenticeship programme we have reduced the number of people being recruited externally into management roles as we are able to promote from within. As well as contributing to the retention of our staff, it has also reduced the training costs associated with bringing new managers up to speed with our culture and ways of working.”


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