Posted by on 14 September 2017

Guide for recruiting Managers 2

The University of Exeter apprenticeship strategy will boost workforce capability, through ‘growing our own’ talent from a variety of entry routes, and enhance skills of our existing staff to meet our existing and future skills gaps.

It’s about new skills not just new people – there are apprenticeship opportunities for current staff too. Apprenticeships should complement, and not be disruptive to, your college or service and should always be based on your business, and skills, needs.

The opportunities for apprentices to help our University towards its strategic aims are there, and are only limited by your imagination of how to employ them. The introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy on 6 Apr 2017 gives the University the opportunity to tap into a digital account to pay for the apprentices training through a registered training provider.

Through our apprenticeship schemes and engagement at recruitment events we are working to ensure that we are able to recruit great apprentices and deliver high quality training and support throughout their apprenticeship.

Line managers and hiring managers can use the following points to help them embed apprentices into their directorates.  Note: Recruitment process charts, checklists and templates available on our apprenticeships website.

Role identification

Apprenticeships need to be embedded within our institutions workforce planning. This will ensure that they have the ability to develop their careers within Exeter.

There are a number of ways you could develop apprenticeship roles in your staffing plan:

  • Assess whether planned roles, already in your business plans, could be offered as apprenticeships. Consideration should be taken as to whether roles could be recruited as apprentices. Where there is a need, HR Services will work with Colleges and Services to develop new apprenticeships.
  • When starting the recruitment process, you should consider whether the role you are looking to recruit could be filled by an apprentice. This could either be at entry level (level 2 and 3 apprenticeships) or at a higher level (for apprenticeships at level 4 and above).
  • Offering our current workforce enhanced opportunities to retrain and up skill, targeting apprenticeships at key capability gaps within our workforce. We can use apprenticeship Levy funding for a current member of staff to undertake an apprenticeship at the same level as, or at a lower level than, a qualification they already hold, if the apprenticeship will allow the individual to acquire substantive new skills and you can evidence that the content of the training is materially different from any prior qualification or a previous apprenticeship.

Type and level of apprenticeship

The apprenticeship should be aligned to the type of employment/role that you are looking to fill. If there is a business need for an administrator then you should be looking at a Business Administration apprenticeship, or if you are looking for a mechanical engineer then you should recruit an apprentice on a Mechanical Engineering Apprenticeship. There is an A-Z of apprenticeships and a find apprenticeship training site that can help you choose the right apprenticeship for the role.

You will need to decide on the most suitable level for the apprenticeship – this should broadly align with the role and the responsibilities you need the apprentice to have. Take a look at the latest list of apprenticeship occupations.

Find the training provider who can deliver the apprenticeship

There are a number of training providers that may be able to deliver the training, qualifications and assessments to your new apprentice.

At the University we have built up a good working relationship with both Exeter College and Cornwall College Group who offer a fantastic range of courses that can meet our needs.

Apprenticeship training lasts between 1-5 years depending on the type and level of training.  Typical durations are:

  • Level 2 (Intermediate level) typically 12-18 months.
  • Level 3 (Advanced level) typically 18-24 months.
  • Level 4 and 5 (Higher level) typically 24-36 months.
  • Level 6 and 7 (Degree level) usually between 4-6 years.

You could also use the Find Apprenticeship Training service to work out the best training provider for you.

Agree the salary for the role

At the University we pay a competitive salary that is above the national minimum wage. Our apprenticeship salaries are set in line with the role and position that are being filled.  Apprentice salary scales have been published on the HR web pages.

An apprentice’s contract will be full time (1 FTE) on either a fixed-term or open ended contract. Apprenticeship training is a minimum of 12 months.  Apprentices on training against an Apprenticeship Standards will then complete an end point assessment (EPA).  As a rule of thumb it would be safe to add a month after the training end date to give the apprentice enough time to complete their EPA.  The contract end date must be after the apprenticeship training completion date.

The job title does not need to have the word “apprentice” in it, as this may potentially limit the number of applicants who might apply.  Having said that, the word “apprentice” will need to be added to the job title when it is advertised on the National Apprenticeship Service website.

The job description needs to be written in plain English and any abbreviations should be written out in full so that people outside our organisation are able to understand the role we are advertising. You should also try to avoid or reduce any university/business jargon. The job description should enable the applicant to understand what the role is and what we will be requiring them to do.

Advertise the apprenticeship

Apprentice vacancies differ from our normal format as they are written to enable them to be advertised through the National Apprenticeship Service website. They will also be advertised by our training provider and on our University website.  All applications will be managed through our University recruitment system.

Interviews and selection process

Our training providers will shortlist alongside our recruiting managers.  This ensures that all apprenticeship applicants meet the training provider’s eligibility criteria, and gives us a choice of high quality candidates. Following shortlisting, the training provider will conduct their initial assessment and functional testing, and the recruiting manager will interview the applicants.

The hired apprentice must sign an apprenticeship agreement (between the apprentice, the training provider and the employer) as part of a formal contract.  This details the duration of the apprenticeship, the training they will undertake, working conditions and the qualifications they are working towards.

Employment start and inductions

An effective induction process is essential for all new members of staff at the University, and this is no different for an apprentice as they are an employee first and foremost. The University induction aims to assist the apprentice to perform effectively in their job role and within their work environment as soon as possible.

It is very import to ensure that a thorough local induction is carried out for the apprentice in their work area. This must also include and health and safety information and guidance specific to their work. You should issue them with any Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) before they start working on anything that requires its use.

Some advice on how to make your apprenticeship working relationship work:

  • Ensure the apprentice has a mentor. This will help the apprentice to settle into their new surroundings and will enable them to quickly pick up what to do.
  • Set a clear outline of expectations and a safe supportive environment to learn and develop. It’s important to set your expectations from the very start of their employment.
  • Encourage them from the start to own and drive their programme targets and to seek regular feedback to self-assess their performance.
  • A good induction should aim to:
    • Help them settle into the business and make them feel comfortable in their new surroundings.
    • Provide a good induction to the apprentice’s role and how they fit in the wider team.
    • Provide practical guidance and advice in areas such as how to report risks, health and safety, working time, breaks, pay, working conditions, dress codes, and use of personal telephones/devices.
    • Help the apprentice understand their duties and clearly explain the line of authority, including an introduction to the roles of the supervisors and managers.
    • Provide reassurance about where they can go for help if difficulties arise, and what to do/who to speak to if they are unwell.
    • Give the apprentice opportunities to get to know their colleagues and to integrate effectively into the wider workplace culture.
    • Provide plenty of opportunities for the apprentice to ask questions.
  • Communicate, review progress and meet regularly.  Schedule regular 1:1 meetings/catch-ups to review progress and development of the apprentice in their work and with their training.
  • Include apprentices in team tasks, activities and meetings to help them feel part of your team.
  • Set their PDR objectives and targets at the start. You will need to set both short, medium and long term targets for the apprentice to work towards. Don’t forget to make them Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time bound (SMART).
  • Encourage the apprentice to use their new and existing skills to contribute directly to business needs.
  • Keep apprentices motivated and interested by challenging them with new tasks to consolidate their skills.
  • Provide feedback, praise and recognition.  Say thank you often and use the “Above and Beyond” Staff Recognition scheme – praise them for a job well done.
  • Support their apprenticeship training. You may be able to give them work that they can use towards projects or evidence for their skills assessor. Ensure that they are supported by having 20% of their time for off-the-job training.
  • Regularly communicate with the apprentice and their training provider to check they are on track and address any issues/concerns that they may have.
  • Know when the apprentice has their college/training day, and get involved with visits from their skills assessor/tutor.
  • Provide an appropriate level of autonomy and empowerment.
  • Take an interest in the individual.
  • Be available to talk if an employee has a question or a problem.
  • Be approachable and understanding.

Mentoring and support

We must provide ongoing support, pastoral care and mentoring.  Good management of apprentices is vital to ensure they adapt to the workplace and continue to grow with the business.

The apprentice’s line manager, or nominated colleague, should be assigned to mentor the apprentice. The mentor is there to offer support and to use their knowledge, skills and connections to help the apprentice in their new role and help them develop.

Mentors should help the apprentice become more self-aware and allow them to take responsibility for solving their own problems.

There is training available for managers on our learning and development website.

Apprentices will also be supported by skills assessors/tutors from our training providers who will visit the apprentice on site and provide support during their time with them on off-the-job training.


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