With many organisations across a wide variety of sectors looking to recruit apprentices, key questions to consider are what makes a suitable candidate and how do you go about finding and attracting them?

First of all, it is worth remembering that the philosophy behind apprenticeships is the same as that of most organisations: working and learning are not separate entities, but feed into each other so that staff develop professionally.

With this in mind, and based on our extensive experience of working with apprenticeship employers, we are aware that many employers find it a challenge to identify and recruit sufficient numbers of new apprentices.

Support with apprentice recruitment

As a result, the LSBU Apprenticeships team supports organisations by promoting apprenticeship vacancies during school visits, advertising them and uploading them to the National Apprenticeship Service website. We can then shortlist applications on employers’ behalf. Plans are also in place to provide a more bespoke service to employers to ensure the highest quality candidates are found. More details about this will be released soon.

Support with training needs analysis

For employers looking to send existing staff on an apprenticeship programme, our Apprenticeships team is able to visit the workplace to explain the process and identify the best apprenticeship standards for staff and the business.  Alongside this, we also support businesses to undertake skills needs analysis to help them identify exactly what type of training is most suitable for their specific requirements. Once on board, LSBU provides regular feedback to employers on progress, which is a requirement of apprenticeships and forms part of the three-way relationship between the training provider, the employer and the apprentice.

Whether organisations require the support of LSBU to find the most suitable candidates or even if they already have comprehensive recruitment practices in place, what to look for in the right candidate remains the same.

Most importantly, a potential apprentice must have passion and be able to prove that they have real enthusiasm about their topic of expertise. One way to look for this is to assess their extra-curricular activity: do they exercise their passion and skills in their everyday lives rather than simply on demand? By finding someone who applies their skills and knowledge day in, day out, employers can be sure that they’re switched on to the real world.

Willingness to learn is also crucial, and an apprentice must show that they immerse themselves in their topic because they love to explore their specialty, rather than just learn for the sake of passing grades. Organisations maintain their edge by bringing in talent that will throw themselves head first into the culture. This in turn keeps businesses on their toes, helping them to stay fresh with new ideas. By their very nature, apprenticeships embrace this idea, and the best apprentices are those with a natural enthusiasm that is immediately apparent to all.

Clearly demonstrating this enthusiasm is Francesca Hawes, who is currently undertaking a BEng (Hons) in Building Services engineering at Troup Bywaters + Anders, and works as part of their mechanical design team, designing heating, cooling and ventilation systems for new and existing hospitals. Trainees are seen as an integral part of the workforce at the company, something which Francesca feels gives her a great chance of success. “We’re all seen as equal, and everyone has the same opportunities,” she says. “We work in small groups, which means we are able to learn from senior engineers, associate and partners. Trainees also mentor the newest intake of apprentices and trainees, which means we develop managerial skills as well. 

Employer-sponsored study is supporting my career as I’m able to gain the experience I need to become a Chartered Engineer at the same time as gaining the academic qualifications I need.”

By identifying and attracting the apprenticeship candidates that may have gone unnoticed via traditional recruitment routes, organisations can equip themselves for success and growth for years to come. The fact that there are candidates coming through apprenticeship initiatives automatically shows that they think differently, which is a highly valuable quality in today’s fast-changing world, and one that paves the way for ongoing innovation and adaptation.