Apprenticeships – the key to attracting and retaining young talent in the manufacturing industry?

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With the manufacturing industry dominated by baby boomers coming up to retirement, it’s vital that manufacturers attract and retain young talent in order to sustain a thriving business. With university fees now at a level that is financially unachievable for many school leavers, more and more are now turning to apprenticeships as a route into their preferred career. This is a fantastic opportunity for manufacturers, who can use apprenticeships to recruit and train young people with the abilities to thrive in the industry but for whom continuing with academia is either not possible or not suitable.

How does an apprenticeship work?

An apprenticeship offers the opportunity for an individual to do on the job training alongside theoretical study, taking anywhere between one and four years to complete. Training takes place at work and for some courses apprentices will also spend some time at a college, studying towards nationally recognised qualifications. Apprentices are paid for their work in the same way a normal employee would be and are entitled to the same minimum wage and holiday.

In an industry like manufacturing where the work is highly skilled, apprenticeships are the perfect answer – young people can study whilst also receiving on-the-job training in order to develop the skills required to be effective in such a role.

How can manufacturers benefit from apprenticeship schemes?

Employers of apprentices benefit from an employee who is learning both the theory and skills behind their work, rather than pure academic qualifications, which means work-based learning comes later. This is particularly important for manufacturers, whose roles are often highly skilled and require practical training more so than theory learning.

Training apprentices also helps to inadvertently support succession planning; employers are preparing skilled workers for the future. In fact, 80% of companies who invest in apprenticeships have reported a significant increase in employee retention, suggesting that apprentices are staying at their training ground.

Apprenticeships also positively impact on productivity and engagement. 76% of employers of apprentices agree that they make their workplace more productive and 92% believe they lead to a more motivated and satisfied workplace.

But is it financially beneficial? The answer is yes – and even more so this year. The apprenticeship levy, starting in spring this year, will give all employers £15,000 allowance in digital vouchers for the training of apprentices. Employers will also have access to an online portal where they can source apprentices, find accredited training providers and pay for training using their vouchers. Even without this funding, 59% of apprentice employers report that training apprentices is more cost-effective than hiring skilled staff.

With no experience to go on, how can manufacturers choose the right apprentices?

We always advise employers to look beyond just the CV when recruiting, but this is even more important when recruiting young or inexperienced people who have little to no employment history. How can recruiters pick the right apprentices who will be able to fulfil the requirements of the role and fit into the company culture?

Psychometric assessments are incredibly useful here. They provide in-depth knowledge into how a candidate tends to behave in the workplace, including their strengths, areas for development, what motivates them, how they prefer to communicate as well as their levels of emotional intelligence which indicate how well they handle stress, how self-motivated they are, how equipped they are at regulating their emotions, and more. This information empowers an employer to understand how well suited a candidate is to a certain role, how compatible they may be with other team members and the wider company culture. Aptitude and ability assessments can also be a powerful tool when recruiting, as they provide an indication of speed of learning, so how trainable an apprentice is likely to be.

Getting the most out of your apprentices

Once you’ve identified and recruited the right apprentice for your roles and company, the hard work begins. It’s imperative that apprentice employers give their apprentices effective and appropriate support to help them progress well in their training and longer-term in their career.

Psychometric assessments are more than just a sifting agent during recruitment – they are also a powerful tool for people development. By gaining an in-depth understanding into an apprentice’s behaviour, emotional intelligence and speed of learning, a manager can create a bespoke approach to their development and tailor their training to best suit the individual.

Do you already employ apprentices but want to better support their development? Or do you want to start recruiting apprentices but don’t know where to begin?

Get in touch with us using the form below and find out how we can support you with your apprenticeship scheme.


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