Modern Apprenticeships – our view

Posted On 07th March,2017

By Ria White
Modern Apprenticeships – our view

The time was right to grow our team and we wanted to introduce fresh talent into our organisation. We have sufficient experience and knowledge in our business to mentor new talent so decided to bring three new apprentices into our team – the below is a summary of what we learned and our opinion on modern apprenticeships.

General

Many colleges offer support for your recruitment and want to find good placements for their students so do ask them for advice.

Whilst the minimum wage for an apprentice is £3.30 we chose to pay £5 to attract the talent we were seeking. This did work exceptionally well and we attracted very high caliber candidates – however this also meant additional time in sifting and interviewing (time well spent!).

All the qualification training is provided free to the employer and is arranged by the college – you simply need to know when and where.

There is currently a government grant of £1500 per candidate up-to 5 apprentices per year – the college will process the relevant documentation for you – but don’t expect payment to be quick!

Planning

If you are thinking about taking on apprentices, the summer is the best time for advertising as candidates are seeking posts and considering their options.

I would advise planning the roles/writing Job Descriptions and generally getting ready in Spring ready for your advert to go live early Summer (note the colleges will advertise the roles for you – but nothing stopping you posting on your own website).

Consider who the mentor is going to be for each apprentice and create a detailed induction and training plan.

Sifting/Interviewing

I decided not to carry out telephone interviews as I’ve observed this to be the least comfortable way for younger people to communicate – instead I carried out group interviews followed by one-to-one.

My final shortlist I invited for 1/2 day work experience so I could observe them in the workplace – I would highly recommend this approach as behavior was often very different from that of the interview.

Your choice here – but I chose to be a little more honest in my feedback to unsuccessful candidates than I would normally offer. I was very constructive and gentle but offered advice on how they could improve their interview skills for future roles – this was generally appreciated by the candidates.

In my experience, many candidates had chose their apprenticeship based on a subject they were good at – rather than what they enjoyed doing. For example; I believe someone good at maths but not detail orientated would struggle and/or be bored in an accounts role.

Appointment & Induction

Don’t be shocked if you have dialogue with your candidates parents – this was very new to me having only recruited established professionals in the past.

Go through your company handbook in detail – this is likely to be new territory for your candidates and they need to understand your policies – especially for things like social media.

Training

It is highly likely that your candidates will not have skills you take for granted, such as using an email system, how to answer the phone and how to craft well constructed communications such as emails and letters.

Don’t assume they know how to file things (electronically and physically) or manage their time and tasks.

Our greatest success was experienced when a detailed training plan was created and significant time dedicated by the mentor – this is resource hungry initially, but meant the candidate started adding value quickly.

Conclusion

I have huge respect for this scheme and the colleges who support it and provide the training. We have highly motivated and energetic new talent in our business and the qualification training can enhance operations. I can’t state it more strongly – invest lots of time with your candidates when they first join, this will pay dividends both with their motivation and contribution.

We are thrilled with our fresh new talent and will certainly be looking for more apprentices in 2017.

About the author

Ria White, Operations Director at Easy Networks, has managed physical and virtual teams of all sizes for her former employer Waitrose. She has a creative insight into landing change and the impact on the individuals effected. Also an expert with HR and projects of all sizes.