Working together to create a future for the next generation

12th January 2021

“Put your hand up if you want to know what an apprenticeship is?” was the question the Apprenticeship Recruitment team asked to thousands of Year 11 High school students during National Apprenticeship Week in February 2020. For many, this is when their whole journey began.   

As the recruitment team stood in school assembly’s across Salford and Greater Manchester answering any questions around Apprenticeships, little did their audience know they already had an abundance of recruitment opportunities ready for this summer’s applicants.

Recruiters’ priority is to ensure that they headhunt for apprenticeships and talent match accordingly, whilst also identifying what support the applicant needs. This could be Industry advice, interview support or general confidence. The expert recruitment team at Apprenticeships at Salford City College work extremely hard every month prior to the summer to ensure that every student is prepared for the world of work.

“Asking a young person ‘what do you want to be when you’re older?’ always makes me wonder” said Recruitment Leader at Apprenticeships at Salford City College, Mandy Shepherd. “I laugh with high school students in every presentation I deliver as I use myself as an example.”

Mandy Shepherd, Recruitment Leader at Apprenticeships at Salford City College

She continued: “When I was younger I told everybody I was going to work on a beach, no specific job role, just a desire to work on a beach. So I left school, studied Travel and Tourism and ended up working in a Travel call centre based in Salford (with no beach in sight). When I ask young people now to identify job roles on a beach, the answers are a waitress, a lifeguard or a sales person for excursions. Looking back, I wouldn’t have been very good at any of these. My point here is, nobody ever asked me what job I wanted on a beach, and this shows it’s not just about recruitment. It’s the in between that counts. Anybody can apply for an apprenticeship, but do they really know what the role is? How at 16 do young people know what the role will be like if they have never worked in the industry.”

With apprenticeships becoming more popular year on year, the relationship between school careers teams and the apprenticeship recruitment team also becomes stronger. This year the teams have focused on industry knowledge and preparing young people for an apprenticeship at the earliest opportunity.  This started as large groups and then moved onto workshops, one-to-one sessions, employability preparation, CV preparation, employer conversations and role play interviews to show candidates how employers see their applicants.

Speaking about the partnership between the apprenticeship team and the career’s advisors, Mandy explained: “This year we faced the hardest year that nobody will forget. With school closures and GCSE exams cancelled, for many young people their destination was unknown. During this time, I was extremely grateful of the relationship we already had with students seeking apprenticeships, as we had already hosted a number of activities allowing us to get to know these students. This enabled us to move to digital support during lockdown, with both the students and their careers advisors across the city. Had we not met these students prior to the pandemic I don’t think we would have had half the success as we did.” 

As the team look back to February 2020 when they first met some of students, they take pride in how far they have come over the last few months with many now in apprenticeships. The feedback that the team have acquired from both employers and schools has been a testimony to their hard work.

One of the schools that the Apprenticeship team worked closely with is Moorside High School. Career’s Advisor, Simon Farmer, said: “I have been delighted with the engagement from the apprenticeships team and the high level of support they have provided for our pupils here during the last academic year. The team delivered informative group sessions to pupils interested in learning more about apprenticeships post-16. From this, pupils wishing to be considered for apprenticeships were then scheduled in for a one-to-one discussion with one of the recruitment team to discuss their own individual career aims, which was important to me as this provides a much more personalised process.”

“I am so thankful to the team for helping us to have some fantastic destinations for some of our Year 11 leavers this year – we are looking forward to sharing more great outcomes next year!”

Moorside High School Career’s Advisor, Simon Farmer

One of the students from Moorside High School, Callum Thwaite, was delighted to have been accepted onto his apprenticeship upon leaving school. He explained: “The support from Mr Farmer and the apprenticeship team was fantastic. The team were already speaking to employers before I’d even had the chance to finish school. This made me feel more confident upon leaving and now I couldn’t be happier in my Joinery apprenticeship.”

As the partnership between schools and apprenticeships grows, so does the amount of progression opportunities. Sarah Scanlan, Head of Participation for 14-19 year olds at Salford City Council, explained: “It is a delight to see how effectively Salford schools and the apprenticeship team have continued to engage digitally and regularly over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. I am equally pleased to see that strong progressions into apprenticeships are continuing and I hope they can together build on these partnerships next year to support even more young people into meaningful opportunities.”

If you are an employer who is looking to speak to school leaver’s, please call one of our Apprenticeship advisors today 0161 631 5555.

Equally, if you are a partner wanting more advice on how we can support your students in 2021, please call 0161 to arrange a meeting.

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