Recruiting and developing your rising stars: National Apprenticeship Week 2016

The characteristics of a good managerWe've been shortlisted at the Buckinghamshire...

We're proud of our commitment to employing and developing young people and are celebrating National Apprenticeship Week.

At Thomas, we’re proud of our commitment to employing and developing young people (under 25s made up 39% of our new starters last year), and recruit for apprentices in a wide variety of functions across the business. To celebrate National Apprenticeship Week, which is running nationwide from 14th – 18th March, we’re giving you an insight into how we ensure our young recruits get the most out of their apprenticeships, from ensuring they are placed in the right role, to developing them into a permanent member of the team with a bright future.

Recruiting young people who have little or no work experience presents a fresh set of challenges. Often, those applying for an apprenticeship will be less aware of their working strengths than an experienced professional, so it is vital for you and your apprentice to begin to understand what they are good at and what work is best suited to them from the very beginning.

Behavioural profiling helps employers and apprentices to establish what type of role would be most appropriate for the applicant. We use the Thomas PPA during the recruitment process for every role we hire for, but find it especially helpful when recruiting apprentices into what is often their first full time job. Pinpointing where their strengths lie and the way they prefer to work gives us an extra layer of certainty that we have the right person for the right role, particularly when they have little work experience behind them and a less complete picture of what might be expected of them in their new role.

Having completed a 2 year apprenticeship scheme at Thomas, I was delighted to be offered a full time role to continue to utilise the skills and knowledge I learnt. My apprenticeship was key in kick-starting my career, and I was delighted to recently be promoted into a senior role, with plenty of further development opportunities ahead of me. Using our tools throughout my apprenticeship and beyond has helped me to become more self-aware and understand where my strengths are, as well as where I can improve. This has been invaluable as I have progressed in my career.

Rebecca Maxted, Operations

Our interviewer's guides, which are bespoke for the PPA profile of the candidate and can be generated through the Thomas Hub, provide useful examples of interview questions, but we adapt these to better suit apprentice interviews, focusing more on experiences during school, college and/or work placements. Take a look at some examples below of how we adapt our interviews for apprentices:

Question in interviewer's guide:

Influencing others to your point of view is seen to be a particular strength of yours. What personal examples of this characteristic can you recall?

Adapted to:

Do you have an example of a school project where you worked in a team or a team work exercise which you are particularly proud of? What role did you play in the team?

Question in interviewer's guide:

What would your plan of action be if you were called upon to challenge others, get them to accept your authority and take harsh and unpopular strategic or disciplinary decisions?

Adapted to:

Has there been a time at school where you had to challenge people you were working with, or be the leader of a project? How did you approach this?

Question in interviewer's guide:

What situations at work please and motivate you the most?

Adapted to:

At school, what sort of tasks did you enjoy doing the most? Did you enjoy group activities or did you prefer independent learning?

Once we've placed our apprentices in roles that play to their strengths, we continue to draw on the insight our assessments have given us to tailor their role and responsibilities to get the best out of them. They also help us to pinpoint any training needs or areas for development. For the apprentice, they are given the tools to begin to develop a higher level of self-awareness, which is invaluable for them in the workplace. We seek to provide meaningful career opportunities for our apprentices, and once we have taken someone on board, we work very hard to provide them with the support they need to move into a permanent role and progress.

Hiring young people not only supports our succession plan and allows us to future-proof our business, but also helps us to foster an environment of innovation and dynamism, with input across all generations. There is no escaping that technology is evolving at a rapid pace and as a technology-led organisation, having young people on board who are particularly adept at progressing with this pace is invaluable to us.

Louise Basu, HR Director

At Thomas, our apprentices have supported our growth plans and helped to keep us forward-thinking and dynamic. Recruiting and developing apprentices requires you to commit time to training and development to help your new recruit flourish, but you will reap the rewards of your investment.

Need support in recruiting and developing your apprentices and future stars? Call us on 01628 475 366 or email to find out how we can support you.

Are you thinking of undertaking an apprenticeship? Keep an eye on our careers page, where we post all of our apprenticeship vacancies.

Louise Basu, HR Director

Louise Basu, HR Director

Louise joined Thomas in 2013 following a HR career within consumer finance and the pharmaceutical industry. Louise is passionate about ensuring the HR function is both approachable and integrated across the business, driving the Thomas values through workplace engagement. Louise is CIPD qualified with a French and Spanish degree.