ISE Apprenticeship Conference Reflection

It was a real pleasure to be representing Capp at the #ISEApprentice19 conference last week. My colleague Carmel and I saw some great presentations and had lots of interesting conversations with recruiters, programme managers and careers advisors.

Key takeaways from the event include: 

  • How important it is to have a clear strategy and well-thought out business case to present to stakeholders when creating apprenticeship programmes in your organisation. It may be obvious to you that hiring hungry and able apprentices is a no-brainer and ready-made solution to solving talent and skill shortages, but you will need to articulate this to, not just senior leaders, but ideally your whole workforce though effective communication and highlighting of the benefits. 

  • If you’re not taking on the hefty task of becoming an accredited apprentice training provider yourself then do choose your partner wisely. There were a few examples of training providers that looked good on paper (good ratings with Ofsted and/or the EFSA), but soon went out of business! There are some great providers out there, so do your due diligence and find the right partner for you. 

  • Engage with students, parents, schools and colleges. Apprenticeships may be the absolute best route for some, but if you’re not engaging with the right people then your programmes may not be discovered. Even if they are, due to a lack of information and stigma attached to apprenticeships or even disinterest from parents, then you’re not likely to get the diverse talent you are looking for into your talent pools. Ask yourself as an employer, do you have real relationships with educational institutes or just superficial ones? One Careers Manager from a school in Essex advised how she was more than happy to put apprenticeship opportunities up on their internal careers site and already does this for many local businesses she has strong links with. I thought this was brilliant and definitely the way forward. 

  • From a practical standpoint, be aware of what your minimum academic criteria is. There are a lot of different qualifications on offer to students now, so from a colleges/schools perspective, be clear with students/parents as to whether those qualifications can lead to an apprenticeship placement – and from an employer perspective, make sure you know and clarify which qualifications you will require students to have when applying for your apprenticeships, and make that explicit in your advertising. 

  • The final session in the day was data laden, yet fun and interactive (never thought I’d say that!). The excellent Tristram Hooley from the ISE presented a range of questions that audience members could rate on a scale of 1-5 in real time via an app/website. It was clear from the answers that apprenticeships are here to stay and seen as being extremely valuable. 

  • There is no-doubt still work to do to make apprenticeships more appealing to students, parents and some organisations, but judging by the engagement at the conference and the excellent presentations and Q&A’s, the appetite is there and we’re on the right path. 

  • From a personal point of view, as someone who went straight from college into a job that was, erm, ok I guess, it would have been great to have the opportunity to learn and earn in a structured and supportive environment. 

  • Finally, I’m in a job I love now thankfully! If you’d like to have a chat about how Capp’s assessment solutions can help your organisation to asses for raw talent and potential, please give me a shout at paul.gilbert@capp.co

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