“Shaping” apprentices is only part of the problem, however; the actual recruitment process needs a complete overhaul.

Following the publication of the Holt Report, the government has committed itself to increasing awareness amongst SMEs of the benefits of apprenticeships. It also says it will make support for small businesses “simpler and more accessible”, and take away powers from training firms when it comes to advising apprentices. This, says the government, will empower SMEs, which, says the report, have historically had a lack of awareness about the benefits of taking on apprenticeships and how best to recruit and train them.

New measures announced will see the Government:

  • Work with the people that SMEs look to for advice, including lawyers and accountants, to promote apprenticeships to their SME customers
  • Enable SMEs to get their apprentices the training they need, by providing better information on availability and investigating how to give them a greater say in developing the skills they need
  • Improve the performance of providers of training to SMEs by agreeing standards and the consequences of not meeting them
  • Improve the Apprenticeship Grant for Employers by making it simpler and more accessible to more employers.

Upon the Holt report being published, Education Secretary Michael Gove said: “I am very grateful to Jason Holt for the considerable time and effort he has devoted to producing his report. He is certainly right that we need to give employers, and not training providers, the power and freedom to shape their apprenticeships, and make the process as simple as possible for every employer.”

“Shaping” apprentices is only part of the problem, however; the actual recruitment process needs a complete overhaul. It’s commendable that the government should be promoting the benefits of apprenticeships to businesses, and there’s no doubt that with youth unemployment at such high levels (especially amongst NEETs), then something needs to be done.

The push towards apprenticeships offers both a great opportunity and a great challenge to employers. How do the find the best talent, and the best fit, for their companies? On the flip-side of the coin, the Holt Report offers a great opportunity for young people looking to train for a long and successful career, but again questions remain – most pertinently: how do wannabe apprentices make themselves stand out from the crowd?

This is a minefield for employers, and much more needs to be done to bridge the gap between willing, eager young workers and a safe, secure and enjoyable job. HR departments needs to switch themselves onto the fact that young people are now willing to engage with potential employees in a completely different way; whilst those apprentices-in-waiting need help and guidance to best promote themselves to stand out from what has been a long-growing crowd of young unemployed. It’s a two-way street.

Most people looking for a job these days look online – gone are the days of picking up the local paper.
A report earlier this year by Experian Hitwise showed that the rise in online recruitment on social media networks has been seen to increase the rise in sites such as Facebook and Twitter. The report highlighted that social networking sites received around 2.4 billion hits from UK visitors in January alone.

So, if employers are changing the way they’re advertising jobs, shouldn’t apprentices be changing the way they promote themselves to employers? Since launching a year ago we’ve seen a wholesale change in the way the candidates on staffbay.com promote themselves, from conducting Skype interviews to presentations. The use of video has become more and more popular and many use it as a way of breaking down barriers between themselves and any prospective employer even before they’ve applied for a job.

According to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation businesses in the UK waste £1m a day on poor recruitment, whilst the average recruitment cost of filling a vacancy (using any method) is £3,950.

Staffbay.com has some huge multinationals such as Rolls-Royce and Volkswagen (both of whom are well-publicised for recruiting apprentices) signed up, and if they can see and hear why they should employ an apprentice before they invite them along for an interview, then it not only saves them time – but also money.

The government makes a lot of noise about the emphasis it places on getting people back into work, especially those in the 18-24 age range. It’s these young people who have the knowledge of social media, its impact and how it can affect change in society. What David Cameron and Gove should be doing is encouraging apprentices of all ages to change the way they promote themselves to employers, because the days of the paper CV are numbered.