This week the WhiteHat team hosted a best practice breakfast in our brand new HQ, bringing together HR and talent professionals from across London to share learnings on hiring apprentices and supporting them in the workplace.

Alongside lots of insightful discussion from the room, we heard from one of our very own accounting apprentices, Sami, on his experiences of working as a Finance Assistant at Portlands; and Warner Bros Recruitment Director Niki Gillies shared some brilliant advice on how to implement a successful apprenticeship hiring plan.

Here are our key takeaways from the event!

The Recruitment Process

  • Launch your recruitment strategy with a ‘philanthropic’/sponsor manager who is motivated to take on an apprentice for the right reasons.
  • Identify an intrinsic value in running an apprenticeship scheme. Leadership backing is the key to getting company-wide buy in.
  • Ask managers to self-select for the chance to have an apprentice and make sure to manage the expectations of those who put themselves forward on what to expect from an apprentice hire.
  • Implement a high-touch recruitment process that involves hiring managers at every stage — if they’ve helped you to create the strategy, you’ll get more support along the way.
  • Use examples of rockstar apprentices to showcase and sell the apprenticeship scheme to less engaged managers.

On Programme Support

  • Apprentices do require a bit more support than your average grad but with a little bit of extra effort and planning around the provision of this assistance, they can thrive.
  • The 20% Off The Job Training is easy to manage as long as you stay on top of it and have a clear plan in place.
  • Keep an open dialogue with apprentices, either through their line managers or HR. It doesn’t have to be formal — but as with any employee, taking the time to see how they’re doing will go a long way.
  • Give apprentices opportunities to develop; demonstrating your belief in them and their ability to grow will motivate them to keep working hard.
  • Apprentices bond with each other, so hire more than one to create a community feel.

Creating the long-term view

  • It’s difficult to plan for the long-term as the apprenticeship landscape is rapidly changing and the levy rules are still under review.
  • Avoid planning in isolation — always be mindful of your apprentice’s future. What’s the next step after they finish their qualification. Will there be a job at the end?
  • Consider the implications of the levels of qualification that you choose. The higher degree level apprenticeships pose their own challenges in terms of time and support required.
  • It makes sense to utilise your levy spend for existing staff training, but keep in mind the young people at the heart of why apprenticeships exist: to develop a diverse group of future leaders and bring fresh perspectives to the typical workplace.
  • Apprenticeship training has to be attractive to current employees: it has to be worthwhile and of real value. Find an element of the qualification that will benefit them.