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Top tips for advertising an apprenticeship

Written by Cinzia Brusini, Head of Careers at Form the Future

Employers pay attention! January is the time of year that you want to start advertising apprenticeship roles for school-leaver, start planning an effective approach now using our tips.

In this month’s newsletter we share some of the best and most helpful ways to advertise an apprenticeship to attract the most suitable young people for the job.


Regardless of how well-informed and equipped schools and colleges are to support their young people with the apprenticeship application process, the fact remains that in most, the university application (UCAS) process is more widely known and understood.

What this means with the way things are currently is that when young people begin to think about their next step often falls much earlier than the apprenticeship vacancies available.

For many young people, discussions around their next step start as early as the September of the year they are leaving school. Whilst those wanting to go to university may have a rough idea about what they’d like to apply for and when (better still, they can communicate all this to their support network of teachers, careers advisers, parents / carers and to some extent, get them off their backs!), those considering applying for an apprenticeship are often left ‘waiting around’ for relevant apprenticeship start dates. This can mean that they are unofficially considered by their support network as being ‘at risk of becoming NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training).’ Worse still, some consider themselves to have ‘no plan’ when compared to those who have submitted ‘something’ via UCAS.

Unfortunately, the apprenticeship route is still seen by many as secondary to university and/or more suitable for those who are ‘not academic.’ Worse still, it’s the route not many people know a lot about. This means we all have to work a little bit harder to ensure up-to-date, relevant, helpful information reaches potential applicants, particularly young people.

Most common questions from young people:

  • Where can I find live apprenticeship opportunities?
  • When should I apply?
  • What can an apprenticeship lead to?
  • What happens when the apprenticeship comes to an end?

When is helpful to advertise your apprenticeship?

Because different organisations have different opening and closing dates for apprenticeship applications, young people need to apply individually for each opportunity that interests them…very different (and often rather daunting) when compared to the university equivalent, UCAS.

Ideally, young people would have the opportunity to review apprenticeship vacancies in the autumn and winter terms (e.g. September-January), prior to a summer start date (end of July to end of August). In this way, young people interested in the apprenticeship pathway can be preparing their applications in the same way that their peers interested in sixth form, college or university pathways will be doing so.

These timings will help reassure these young people (and their support networks) that they do in fact have options and perhaps even ‘a plan,’ and that they have real, live prospects ahead! And you never know, this could also lead to sixth form, college and university applicants also applying for an apprenticeship given that they are in ‘application mode’ already and wanting to keep their options open.

If an organisation cannot commit to this application cycle, then explicit guidance on when they typically recruit / release apprenticeship vacancies and where they do so, would be the next best thing.

Where is helpful to advertise your apprenticeship?

Most schools and careers advisers will refer to the government apprenticeship search engine as a trusted and one-stop-shop for apprenticeship vacancies. If you want to be inclusive, advertise your apprenticeship opportunities here and save those new to apprenticeship and/or with little support having to break a sweat to find them.

Give applicants a reasonable amount of time to apply for a position and give a clear closing date. You may also want to ask for supporting information to help you to decide on the shortlist. For example, if the role is time sensitive then you may wish to ask when they can start.

Avoid filling vacancies before their closing date – those less experienced in writing job applications (e.g. young people) may want or need as much time as they have been given to complete their application.

What is helpful to advertise?

Using the framework of the apprenticeship, you can start to build up the roles and responsibilities that the member of staff will have. Provide as much detail as possible, using language that is clear and concise. Remember, an apprenticeship pathway is still unfamiliar to many young people (and often even to those supporting them with their applications). Avoid making assumptions. Instead, explain things in layman’s terms to help applicants understand what it is that they are applying for

Some further tips for ensuring you’re being clear are:

  • Order the roles and skills in order of importance. Bullet points are useful to break this up into more digestible chunks.
  • Although not all apprentices are young people, this may be the first experience that they have in the workplace. Take this into account assessing the skills that you’re looking for.
  • Focusing on people skills and qualities, rather than experience, can encourage more applicants to apply. Part of your role as an employer is to help the apprentice to develop the skills they need to be successful.
  • Tell the apprentice what they can hope to learn and what you can offer them too. Think about the target audience that you want to reach, what would appeal to them?
  • Reveal information about the training they will receive and the routes for progression within the company. For many, taking the apprenticeship pathway is taking a trip into the unknown. Providing information on where the apprenticeship could lead to will help reassure prospective applicants that this is a credible option for them.
  • Some applicants may have preconceived notions that apprentices are there to make cups of tea for the boss! Dispel this by giving the job description a clear purpose and destination.
  • Most applicants will want to know what their daily routine will look like, because they want to understand what the job really entails.
  • Clarify how much time each part of the role will really take up. If they have a preference over what they spend the bulk of their time doing, then this makes things clearer for them. This also helps deter some applicants that wouldn’t be as satisfied in the role or are less experienced in the main responsibilities.

Final thoughts…

Consider that apprentices may be less experienced than the usual applicants that you have. They want to train within the job, so look at their extracurricular activities and personal traits.

If an applicant doesn’t make it through to the next stage, then it’s preferable to give them feedback so that they can improve. This feedback can contribute to the development of a young person’s employability skills (and confidence) and may be the difference between them getting the job next time round!

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