National apprenticeship week 2023: How best to recruit and onboard apprentices

Charlotte Boffey, Head of UK Services at Employment Hero talks about how National Apprenticeship Week (6th-13th February) is an opportunity for employers to celebrate the benefits that apprenticeships bring to individuals and UK businesses.

Apprenticeships enable businesses to increase their talent base and develop a skilled workforce, whilst for individuals it gives them the opportunity to learn skills on the job and carve a career in their chosen field.

If you are looking to hire apprentices or set up an apprenticeship scheme, here are some top tips for getting your recruitment strategy right and for creating a smooth and effective onboarding process.

How to create a standout apprentice recruiting strategy

An apprentice recruiting strategy needs to be thought about very differently from a classic recruitment strategy. Your applicants most likely won’t have prior knowledge of applying for roles in the professional world, and they are generally looking for different things compared to a seasoned candidate.

A solid career trajectory

Apprentices are typically coming out of sixth form and university, ready to start kicking career goals. If you can demonstrate that your company provides opportunities for learning and development, you’ll have a competitive advantage immediately.

Work-life balance

What employees want is balance. Work-life balance means generous annual leave arrangements and reasonable clock-off hours. Companies which recognise the importance of work/life balance will prove to be popular.

Mental health support

A workplace culture that supports mental health is far from a ‘nice to have’ for employees, it’s an expectation. Whether that’s something like an employee assistance programme or providing mental health leave – show your commitment to mental and emotional well-being to attract applicants.

Make connections with local universities and colleges

Establishing relationships with local universities and colleges can help you directly access apprentices. Many universities and colleges have career advisors who are always on the lookout for opportunities for students and apprentices entering the workforce. They are also the ones who are likely to run careers fairs at their institution.

Design your interview process for apprentice hires

When engaging with apprentices your interview process is going to look very different to that of a C-level executive, or even someone with a few years of experience. Apprentices are just starting their career journey in their specific field, so it’s important you change the process to suit their experience.

Effective onboarding for new recruits

Check-in with a new starter in the lead-up to their first day

Checking in with the apprentice a few days before their first day to remind them of anything important they might need to bring or giving them a run-through of how the day will help them feel more at ease.

Don’t overload your apprentice with information

Don’t just think of work induction as ‘one of those things you have to do’. Instead, think of how you can create an induction journey for apprentices that’s efficient but also helpful and manageable.

Impersonal experiences during employee induction

Think outside the box for ways you can personalise their induction process into your business. Whether that’s a welcome pack on their desk, a name card hanging in their workstation or a friendly email to the rest of the workforce introducing them to the business.

Not asking for feedback

Feedback is key for any growing business, and this is the same as growing your people. Don’t bombard them with feedback questionnaires on their first day. Sending the apprentice a few brief questions at the end of their employee induction process to get some honest feedback about how they found the process.