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How to recruit the right apprentice.


Over the years I have been involved in many recruitment drives to get the right apprentice. But which is the best way? How do you get the right apprentice who will be keen and loyal and be everything you expect them to be?

You may be disappointed to know, that there is no magic solution. Even the highest profile companies that I have been involved in over the years have recruited someone, they had to let go within a few months. You have to remember you are recruiting someone who probably has very little work experience in the field you occupy. And if you want just one apprentice, you will need to probably interview 10 applicants. To get 10 shortlisted for interview, you will probably have to sift through 50-100 applications. That is very time consuming. So why not get a recruitment agency to do it? Well, for one, most small companies won’t have the budget, but neither do they have the time! Secondly, recruitment companies are usually looking for experienced candidates with full cv’s. So what do you do?

We started recruiting last year for 3 apprentices in the Cardiff area. We had 80 applicants. From those we wanted to take through 40 to the next stage, so we arranged a pre-induction event, which included a short interview, booked out a room and got esources available. Of those 40, only 20 deemed a reply was necessary and that they would turn up. Of those 20, only 8 actually turned up on the day. I mean, this is was an ideal opportunity for a young person to get an apprenticeship! Some of those that turned up were wearing jeans and t-shirt. For goodness sake what is the world coming to? Did their parents not give them any advice for this sort of thing? As it turned out, only 1 of those that turned up, got the job. So recruiting is not for the feint hearted.

Following that debacle of those not turning up for interview and as we still needed to recruit another 2, we took to the web. As the applicants needed to apply through Careers Wales (Wales only), we could sift applicants online. Those that we liked, we arranged a 1:1 using WebEx. This is a video conferencing piece of software with a virtual whiteboard, screen and the ability to share desktops. As this was a resource we were familiar with, we managed the initial pre-induction only with those that we invited. What we found was that the applicants were far more inclined to attend a flexible online event, rather than traipse down to a city centre location. We got a far better % response and the employers got the apprentices they needed.

So there is no magic formula, but time and effort are needed, along with some patience and understanding of those who are likely to apply. Work with them in the medium they are used to, they are mostly millenials. It is a big step for them remember, and they will have had little or no experience as to what an apprenticeship is or what to expect. So this year, we are better informed, and hopefully the process will be smoother.

Scott Margison

Managing Director

Semester: Learning & Development Ltd