Winning the war for talent (Guest Post)

David Allison, MD of GetMyFirstJob, a business that works with colleges and providers to help them attract and fill apprenticeship vacancies, explores how hiring apprentices and training them to meet the needs of your business can secure future growth. 

Is the key to successful business down to finding the right people? There is lots of evidence that says it is. Much has been written about the ‘War for Talent’ and there are a number of authors who would argue that the only way an organisation achieves a sustainable competitive advantage is through the recruitment and management of their people.

Win-winEvery winning team is made up of a group of individuals with the right attitude, skills and knowledge to deliver a great product or service to their customers. A winning team is not top heavy and management-led but like a set of building blocks where every piece has to play its part. The wrong block either doesn’t fit, or worse still, will bring the whole thing down.

Good employers know this – all you have to do is look at the amount of time invested in recruitment by some of the UK’s leading businesses to see that they understand that recruiting the right people in the only way for them to succeed in the future. This market is very competitive too – with companies expecting great service form the recruitment specialists they work with.

We already know that apprenticeships offer a great source of young talent for business with the added benefit of a range of training and support. And with a wide range of apprenticeships on offer more young people are choosing this career path over traditional further education (FE) courses and university. Gone are the days when the only apprenticeships on offer were hairdressing and bricklaying. In fact I find it’s now a challenge to cover the full range and level of qualifications under one banner. Choose your career path and there is probably an apprenticeship scheme out there for you from insurance through to finance to IT.

That’s great news then for the employer. With more young people interested in starting an apprenticeship you will have more choice, but with choice comes decisions, so finding exactly the right person that fits your company is paramount. And you probably don’t want to spend weeks and weeks searching for them.

This means that any organisation chosen to help find your ideal apprentice must be on the ball, proactive and offer an outstanding service. It requires everyone to understand and adopt this approach, from the person you first talk to about a vacancy, through to the individuals tasked with providing short listed candidates.

TrainingOnce you have found an apprentice you will be paying that young person’s salary and devoting time to managing and training them. That’s a very real financial commitment and you want to get it right from the very start or you could end up losing money or having to start your search again from scratch.

That’s why it is important that the benefits of each vacancy are fully understood and explained. GetMyFirstJob has the benefit of working with a range of different training providers and colleges across the Apprenticeship sector. Too often, I see these organisations trying to persuade a company to take on an Apprentice because they are ‘only £2.73 an hour’ – we’ve dubbed this the ‘minimum wage’ sell. Needless to say, this does not attract the best quality, most committed candidates.

So, what do good apprenticeship providers do? They recognise that taking on a new member of any team is a major commitment; a commitment that is worth far more than £2.73 an hour! They recognise that creating the best shortlist of candidates is critical and won’t waste your time with an endless ‘short’ list but will be focused and generate a few good candidates that tick all the boxes. This is, after-all, the approach that any employer gets when they ring up a high-street recruitment agency.

If you are thinking about taking on an Apprentice, make sure that the provider you choose to work with understands this. There is lots of choice when it comes to training providers, so don’t feel you have to work with the first person you talk to. You are, after all, putting the future of your business in their hands..