Apprentice recruitment needs to be transparent and youth-friendly, says CIPD

According to a new report by the CIPD, commissioned by the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS), learning providers and employers must provide clear information and adopt transparent recruitment practices to boost application numbers for less popular apprenticeship programmes.

‘The match factor – Good practice in apprenticeship recruitment’ report explores the reasons why some apprenticeship vacancies go unfilled. It outlines a number of recommendations for learning providers, employers and apprenticeship candidates, including:

  • Learning providers and employers should adopt ‘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 ‘cheap labour’.
  • Apprenticeship candidates should tailor their apprenticeship application to the specific industry, employer and job description and avoid using a ‘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 Rüdiger, Head of Skills and Policy Campaigns at the CIPD, said: “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.”