I've been asked a number of times in recent weeks about how to set up an apprenticeship programme. There are a few simple rules to follow and some key steps for hiring your apprentice.  

Start with purpose.  

What do you want to gain from your apprenticeship? Is it about new talent to the workforce or to create a more diverse one. There are a large number of standards to choose from so pin pointing the reason you are taking them on will making choosing the appropriate standard much easier. I recommend a connecting with Kateif you'd like some strategic advice on setting up your apprenticeship.  

Commitment at all levels is essential. 

Apprenticeships don't just impact the department new recruits will be working in, but the organisation as a whole. Communicate and engage with staff in all areas of the department that they will be joining to uncover concerns, identify training support, and answer questions.  The most successful apprenticeship programmes we have launched with clients include a cohesive comms plan. 

Set up pastoral care systems. 

The majority of apprentices will be school leavers and new to the world of work. Make sure you create a nurturing culture to set your apprentices up for success. The scariest anecdote I heard recently from a large IT Services firm was 3 apprentices being fired for watching YouTube at the same time as working. There was a clear misunderstanding about what what acceptable on both sides resulting in a regrettable situation for everyone involved. 

Choose your training provider carefully. 

Since the launch of the Levy there has been great fluctuations in the apprenticeship provider market. New ones appearing. Others disappearing. In my experience, the providers with a deeper wider mission, eg WhiteHat, are the most successful partners. 

When making your selection obviously follow your familiar tender process. Focus on what it is that you want from a provider, in a similar way that you do any other provider, but also delve into it a bit differently and think "what are the things that mean the most to me".

Dedicated resource. 

Whilst it's not essential to have a resource 100% dedicated to supporting your apprentices, it is essential to ensure that there is a clear focus on this. There questions to manage from the provider and the apprentice, keeping in touch with your apprentices to make sure that their experience is the best it can be, and organising any company specific training/immersion that is necessary. Without it momentum can be lost. 

Engagement not volume. 

Your recruitment campaign must focus far more on digital ‘engagement’ rather than simple volumes. In fact, if you want 30,000 hits on your website, you can get this by spending as little as £30 but will achieve nothing. Getting 3,000 hits from genuine and engaged traffic is far more difficult but far more important when developing a talent pipeline.