Recruiting an apprentice

Now you’ve decided to take on an apprentice, you’ll need to think about recruitment.

Our 10 easy steps will guide you, and once you’ve finished this process, you’ll have a template to work from when you’re hiring again in the future.

Throughout this process your training provider will be able to guide you or even complete most of this for you, but it’s still worth knowing the process.

Step 1 – Who are you looking for? 

It’s important to spend time thinking about the skills, knowledge and behaviors you’re looking for in your new apprentice. Writing the “person specification” and “job description” can better define who and what you’re looking for. 

Think about the skills and knowledge you need now, but also in the future. 

What is a “person specification”?

The person specification should include essential and desirable skills. When you’re putting this together, remember that you’re recruiting an apprentice, so they might not have much work experience or be able to show particular skills. 

You want to make sure that your person specification is a realistic guide and that it doesn’t put off potential apprentices from applying. You don’t want to miss out on great, enthusiastic, conscientious candidates!

What should be in a “job description”?

The job description should include: 

  • Job title
  • Salary
  • Main duties
  • Purpose of the role 
  • What part they will play 
  • Location of the role
  • Information about your company 

When you’re ready to advertise your apprentice job, you’ll need to complete The Apprenticeship Vacancy Template

It’s important to have the job description and person specification completed as you’ll need them to complete the template. 

Step 2 – How much to pay an apprentice

You need to pay apprentices the national minimum wage (or the national living wage), which is currently £4.15. You can check the website for the most up to date figures.

You cannot pay less than this, but you can pay more. 

The rates for the national living wage and the national minimum wage change every April. This is worth considering when looking for certain skills and the level of study that is required to complete the apprenticeship. 

Use our Apprenticeship Cost Calculator to work out how much it’ll cost to train and employ an apprentice. 

Step 3 – Advertising apprenticeship jobs

Your apprenticeship training provider can help you with this – we recommend not just relying on word of mouth as this will limit the number of candidates you attract and does not satisfy equal opportunities or apprenticeship requirements. 

Using our jobs board will open your vacancy to a wide pool of candidates. 

As we’ve already mentioned, your training provider will be able to help or even manage the advertising for you, using the information you provide them. This will help attract the best possible candidates for your business. 

If you have your own recruitment website to ensure you cast the net as wide as possible.

Step 4 – Attracting job applications

Our jobs board is a great place to start. For potential candidates, they’ll easily be able to find your job ad, and understand if it’s a match for them.

When they apply, it gathers all applicant information, making it easy to review the candidate’s skills and experience. 

If you also use your own website for advertising jobs, or perhaps other recruitment websites like Indeed or Monster, make sure you bring all this information together to have the clearest view of all people who have applied. 

But remember, your training provider partner will be able to help you with this process to ensure it’s fair and consistent. 

Step 5 – Shortlisting applications

This is where you look through your applicants, comparing against the job description, and pick the candidates you’d like to interview for the role. 

You can ask your training provider to do the first round of evaluation of your applicants, using a fair and consistent process that matches your criteria. 

However, you can also do this process yourself by asking the training provider to send you all of the applications, but be mindful that you may have received hundreds of applications and this can be a very time consuming task.

Ideally, the shortlist of suitable candidates should be created by more than one person  to help avoid possible bias. it’s important that you do not discriminate against applicants.

It’s recommended that you know whether the candidates have any previous employment, so you can then request references to confirm their reliability.

Once you have your shortlist of candidates, they will then need to be invited to the interview process. 

This can be done by your training provider, and they will contact the candidates making sure they know where and when the interview will be, any information they need to bring along, and what the interview process will be. For example, you could have a practical exercise for them to complete. 

It’s important to note that this could be one of the first important interviews the candidates will attend, so by ensuring that you have the most comprehensive information about the interview process, they will then be able to focus on the interview itself and you will see the real person behind the applicant. 

Within the invitation for an interview, it’s important that the candidate is asked if they have any special requirements you should be aware of. 

Step 6 – Preparing for the interview process

It’s best to plan the interview process and decide if it will be more of a traditional question and answer interview, or whether you’re going to include activities and tasks for the candidates to complete. 

If interviews are going to be completed over a few days or weeks, you must make sure the same process applies for all candidates. The process has to be reasonable and fair for all. 

Best practice is for two or more people to interview the candidates, however, remember that it’s quite likely that the majority of candidates will be 16 to 24, so they may not have a great deal of experience outside of the educational environment. Having a panel of interviewers may not necessarily be the best idea as it could make applicants feel overwhelmed and nervous. 

Your questions need to be relevant to the job and allow the candidate to talk about their skills and past experiences. This is done to assess their skills for the role. You may wish to have the candidate complete a task or a group task in order for you to assess how they approach it individually, or how they interact with others. Your training provider will be well equipped to advise you about this. 

You could also consider taking the candidates on a tour of your premises and assess their level of interest in your organisation, or ask a group of candidates to discuss a 

professional scenario to assess their leadership and influencing skills. 

Step 7 – Carrying out the interview process

When a candidate attends the interview, it’s also their chance to get an impression of your company, so first impressions count for both parties! 

Here’s our top tips for making sure your interview runs smoothly:

  1. Whether you opt for a traditional interview process or something more assessment focused, you need to be well planned with the required documents and resources at hand to conduct the process fairly and efficiently. 
  2. Welcome candidates and make sure they’re introduced to all (or any other) interviewers. 
  3. Start by explaining the format of the interview process and what the next steps would be. 
  4. Tell them about your company and how the job fits into it. 
  5. Throughout the interview or assessment process, it’s vital that you and your assessors keep accurate notes and that these are written up as soon as possible after the interview to record what has been said. 
  6. Remember that written notes can be requested by the candidates after the interview, so make sure what is noted is professional and relevant. 
  7. Allow candidates dedicated time at the end to ask any questions that they might have and then explain the next stages in the recruitment process, giving an idea of the timescale for outcome and feedback. 
  8. Lastly, thank the candidate for attending the interview and showing an interest in joining your organisation. 

And you’re done!

Step 8 – Selecting and appointing the successful candidate

  1. Using all the information gathered throughout the interview process, you’ll be able to select the ideal candidate for the job. 
  2. Once you have made this decision, you will need to talk to your training provider so that they can be involved in the process. 
  3. Get in touch with the successful candidate and tell them the good news. The best way to do this is via a phone call. 
  4. This will then be followed up by an official letter offering them the position, what their salary will be, as well as their contract of employment and other documents that need to be signed. 
  5. Working with your training provider, you will be able to discuss dates, start times and the enrolment process, as it may need to be coordinated for when a particular course starts. 

Step 9 – Giving feedback and notifying unsuccessful candidates

it’s really important to advise any unsuccessful candidates as soon as possible. 

Your training provider may be able to help you with this process. It’s important to provide any unsuccessful candidates with some feedback that they will find constructive and useful – so they can take it and apply it moving forward when applying for other jobs.

As these steps have laid out, it’s vital to have a structured recruitment process in place. 

You will need to follow it closely and keep accurate records. These records can be referred to at a later date, if, for example, a candidate makes a complaint. 

Please remember you could be in breach of the equality and diversity law if there is shown to be any unfair discrimination in your recruitment process. 

Step 10 – Creating the apprenticeship agreement

All apprentices must have an apprenticeship agreement between the employer and the apprentice. 

The agreement must state that the apprentice will be undertaking an apprenticeship in a particular skill, trade or occupation and can be used to reinforce the understanding of the requirements of the apprenticeship. 

The ASCLA introduced the requirement for an apprentice to be employed under an apprenticeship agreement as part of the standard completion conditions for an apprenticeship. 

Your training provider will be able to help you with this, and some will be able to provide the agreement for you.

Download our free Apprenticeship Agreement (MS Word) template

You can also download an apprenticeship agreement template below. 

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