National Apprenticeship Week 2023
You can find out why employers in Southwark choose to employ apprentices by looking at the four case studies below:
PwC: investing in apprenticeships for future growth
PwC, a global multinational professional services organisation, has been running a Higher Apprenticeships Programme since 2012, offering experience within their Consulting, Assurance, Deals and Tax practices. Over the course of their programme, PwC have found that shaping the apprenticeships around key milestones, finishing with a graduation ceremony, focuses the energies of the apprentices and creates multiple opportunities for recognition and reflection. Each apprentice is allocated a people manager who provides them with pastoral care as well as professional guidance and performance monitoring. Quarterly focus groups give the apprentices a chance to share their thoughts and make suggestions to assist with the programme’s ongoing development.
The programme began as an extension of the work that PwC does with school leavers. It has been an enormous success, with the intake number increasing from 60 in the first year to an expected 150 in 2015. Apprentices from the first cohort have even been integrated into the graduate scheme. In fact, they've found that there has been a higher retention rate across the apprenticeship scheme than the graduate scheme.
PwC has a strong emphasis on people, and this scheme gives the organisation a chance to recruit exceptional talent as early as possible. They have a high investment policy in their employees for their first five years with the firm, and this is reflected in the Higher Apprenticeship Programme.
Amy Johnston, Higher Apprenticeship Programme Manager
A&E Elkins: the right people in the right jobs
A&E Elkins is a family company working in property maintenance and refurbishment. Over the last 18 months, we've expanded our business from a staff of 16 to over 66. Part of that rapid growth has been the 20 apprentices we've taken on.
Recruiting local people into local jobs is a core part of the Elkins business - we feel it's important to get the right people into the right jobs.
One way we do this is by building relationships with local schools. We have run workshops for school children to show them what being an apprentice is like, and this also allows us to get a feel for the students to see if there are any potential future candidates for us. Students who were particularly keen were invited to attend an interview at our head office, giving them the experience of a real interview.
We have a flexible approach to recruitment that enables us to find the right people for the job. Single mum Ayesha began an apprenticeship with us that was scheduled around her childcare needs. Ayesha has now progressed to full employment with us, and the arrangement still allows her to work during term time and care for her daughter during school holidays. We are keen to retain talent and are confident that we’ll secure loyalty and commitment from Ayesha as we work with her through this phase of her life. We believe in investing in talent for the long term.
Catherine Duggan, Partnering and Apprentice Manager
A&E Elkins Ltd
Greater London Authority: making recruitment work
At the Greater London Authority (GLA) we have apprentices right across the organisation. The process is competitive and teams apply to have an apprentice each year. We’ve worked hard to get recruitment right to make sure apprenticeships work for our teams and apprentices.
For candidates who aren’t ready for a full apprenticeship, we offer a 6 week traineeship which gives participants work experience and employability training to get them ready for work. Successful participants are offered an interview for the apprenticeship scheme.
Our applicants are invited to an assessment centre with presentations from teams hosting apprentices, team-building exercises, literacy and numeracy tests and initial interviews. Candidates are invited to nominate their top three teams and those who make it through to the final round are invited for final interviews. Applicants who don’t make it through are offered face-to-face or telephone feedback to help them improve for next time. This process has helped ensure that we make the right match between apprentices and teams.
Emilia Ordzieniewicz, Learning and Organisation Development Officer
Greater London Authority
Greater London Authority: making recruitment work
In some ways, an apprentice is like any other member of staff. They’re being trained to take on a permanent positions. Of course, they go on day release to college and we usually give them an hour or two once a week to catch up on any college work, but otherwise, we treat them the same as any other new member of the team.
Communication is so important. Regular talks help to prevent issues. Early on many questions may arise about the workload, processes or procedures in the team; that’s your chance to talk through any issues your apprentice has been avoiding and to get them back on task. It’s best to talk any concerns through in a private room to avoid embarrassing them. In the first few months, it’s often the case that their confidence is unsteady and it’s important that they keep motivated to keep trying and maintain their focus. Sometimes we find that an apprentice will come to us for an answer before they’ve looked for one themselves. To help, we’ve set an agreed slot at the end of each day. Generally, they’ve found the answers they needed by other means, but it keeps the safety net of asking us too.
We’ve worked hard to build apprentices into our whole team. There’s a line in everyone’s work plan about helping apprentices and new staff; we’re all expected to chip in so that managers are supported. We also ask former apprentices to mentor new ones. That gives them space to ask questions they’d rather not ask a manager and means they don’t feel like they’re interrupting us as often. We don’t mind, but it’s important that they feel comfortable and it’s good to have someone else for them to talk to.
There’s a real sense of pride in training an apprentice. Taking someone who, a year before, didn’t know how to send a professional email and seeing them train up new staff. Managing an apprentice keeps you sharp - with a well-established team, it’s easy to lose those management skills so apprentices are valuable for our development too.
Nick D’Cruze and Elizabeth Hemsworth, Specialist Housing Services, Collections Team Leaders
Housing and Modernisation, Southwark Council
If you have any questions regarding employing apprentices, contact us using the details below:
- 020 7525 7335
Page last updated: 20 November 2023