The Engineering Trust

Apprentice recruitment during Covid-19 and 3 online platforms that can help

The impact of coronavirus on businesses has been significant and there are several reasons why the subject of taking on apprentices isn’t exactly top of the agenda at present.

Hiring Apprentices not top of the agenda

Whilst I’m generalising to a certain extent, businesses fall into one of three groups; for some it will put significant pressure on the future, for others a temporary pause and furlough of staff whilst for others it means working hard to keep their workforce fit and healthy to meet demand. Whichever is applicable to you, your focus is understandably on the here and now with little capacity to think or plan past the current situation.

Availability of candidates
Despite all exams being cancelled this academic year, Ofqual has released details of the standardised assessment process that will provide young people with GCSE and A-Level grades in the summer of 2020 to enable them to move on to their next challenge smoothly. Schools around the country are being asked to devise a rigorous approach to awarding grades which involves ranking pupils within each grade. Many schools and sixth form colleges are using indicative tests to ensure that their students continue to study remotely, consolidate their hard work and ultimately complete their courses prior to taking their next step. With this in place, young people will be in a similar position to any other academic year meaning a healthy pool of candidates for your business.

But will there be any vacancies?
So the question is, will there be any apprentice vacancies for young people to fill once they get their grades and look to start their next chapter?

If you are one of the employers who is able to look past the current situation, the process of recruitment can continue.

From our end, we’re still accepting applications from people looking to undertake an apprenticeship in engineering.

We assess them, telephone interview them and shortlist them for the vacancies we have. It’s at this point that each of the employers we currently work with differ. Some have decided to pause and wait for restrictions on people movement to be lifted in order to carry out their interview process face-to-face whilst others are happy to start the process and interview by video or telephone. Either way, we are flexible and can work with you to progress in a way suitable to your business.

An apprenticeship can start at any time
Sure, the tradition is for an apprenticeship to begin in September however this is not set in stone. Apprenticeships can start at any time. Therefore, if you know you want to take someone on once the lockdown is lifted and we begin the road to economic recovery, then you can begin the recruitment process now in order to find the right person for the role. If for any reason the apprentice can’t start in September, then their start can be delayed. I’m not talking a long-term delay however there is flexibility if you appoint someone and your business is not back and physically working by the 1st September (let’s hope we are all back by then!).

Three platforms* that can help you interview, induct and train remotely
Luckily there’s absolutely loads of tech out there that can help you in the process of interviewing and - if needed - inducting people remotely. Here are three platforms that have helped us to take our processes online:

Probably a platform you are already aware of, Zoom is a good way to conduct remote interviews. I chose it because it’s free and because the candidate doesn’t need an account to join the meeting. Just send them the details provided when you schedule the interview (called a ‘meeting’ on Zoom) and you’re away.

This is another free platform that can be used to build online forms for people to complete. So, if you have documents that someone starting with your business, and those documents are usually filled out by hand, you can replicate them on Jotform so they can be completed remotely. There is even a handy widget that lets the person sign off a document using their signature.

This platform allows you to record your screen whilst you walk and talk someone through a process, electronic document or method. It records your screen whilst you complete the aspect you wish to train someone to complete and records any verbal instructions and mouse clicks you say/make. It then produces a video that you can share with the person you want to train. It cuts down on the time it takes to type out the ‘how to’ document and avoids any misunderstanding.

We’re ready when you are
I completely understand why taking on apprentices is not at the top of the agenda for most businesses at present. However, my hope is that the economic recovery following the pandemic will offer lots of opportunities for young people to get into apprenticeships as productivity returns and we enter whatever the ‘new normal’ will be.

As ever, my team here at the Engineering Trust Training are ready to support you every step of the way. In these difficult times we are working hard to continue to progress current apprentices whilst also looking for opportunities for new apprenticeships for young people. Even if you’re not sure, give us a call and have a conversation.

We are ready when you are!

Written by Mark, Chief Executive

*Just a quick note. The platforms I've highlighted here are just a few we have used. I am in no way recommending them and if you do use them after reading this then please do your own due diligence to check security and suitability etc. ?