Public sector apprenticeships: Why acting fast is the best course of action

Olivia VinesPublic sector leaders have objected to recently announced Government targets for apprenticeships. Here Olivia Vines of Jobsgopublic explains why acting fast is the best course of action.

A recent announcement declared the Government’s intentions to make public sector organisations take on more apprentices. The plan involves 200,000 apprenticeship positions being created by 2020, totalling in 2.3 per cent of each organisation’s workforce (Boffey:2015).

Leaders have objected to the imposed targets and the LGA has lamented the “additional cost at a time of significant financial constraint” (PSE:2015), but it has become increasingly apparent that this isn’t going away.

Time, energy and money are precious commodities in any organisation, and most employers would consider themselves already stretched thin. It is for this reason that they feel government expectations in terms of apprenticeships are unreasonable; the tools required to effectively plan and execute a successful apprenticeship programme are simply too hard to come by.

We understand that within busy organisations it can be hard to look beyond the present. We appreciate that there are pressing concerns that need addressing along with looming deadlines and increasing scrutiny.

A crucial aspect of an apprenticeship programme is a focus on the future, not only for the apprentices themselves but also for your organisation.

It has been widely reported that a number of public sector organisations are facing the challenge of rejuvenating an increasingly aging workforce; some organisations claim to have up to 45 per cent of staff entering or nearing retirement age. As the severity of this situation increases so does the urgency of attracting the younger generation. This is something that has been consistently challenging within the public sector.

Through an apprenticeship scheme, you offer the opportunity for young people to begin their careers and start to develop skills that they will use throughout their working lives. Enabling them to do this requires an investment on your part, and this may well result in the apprentices taking their new found skills elsewhere at the end of the programme.

However, you will also find that many will return the investment with one of their own: an investment in the future of your organisation.  Those among our clients who have implemented apprenticeship schemes have been thrilled with the results, highlighting the energy that their apprentices have brought to the organisation as well as the achievements of the apprentices themselves.

A common reason for an aversion to implementing an apprenticeship programme is the historical difficulty in attracting young people into working in public sector organisations. We have often spoken of the misconceptions that exist amongst young people regarding public sector organisations and the barriers that this presents in terms of encouraging them to apply for positions within them.

We recently carried out an extensive study with over a thousand students, with the aim of gaining a clear idea of what motivates young people when they look to start their careers, as well as their impressions of both the public and private sectors.

Some key findings were:

When asked what motivates them in work, an overwhelming 81 per cent of respondents cited ‘making a difference’ as a major motivating factor in work. ‘Making a difference’ was something that a large amount of respondents associated with the public sector.

When asked whether the public or private sector offered more job stability and better work life balance, the public sector came out on top on both occasions.

We have worked closely with a number of top public sector organisations on effective communication with job seekers, especially with younger people. When looking to attract candidates for apprenticeships, properly communicating the factors mentioned above can go a long way to securing applications.

Other key factors to communicate when advertising apprenticeships include opportunities for progression (80 per cent of those who we surveyed highlighted this as something they looked for in an organisation) and training and development (71 per cent).

Whilst many may object to the imposition of the Government’s plans, it is likely that the most beneficial course of action will be to move quickly. Implementing your schemes sooner rather than later, thereby avoiding the stiff competition of the inevitably saturated market, could make recruiting a much easier task.

Olivia Vines is Head of Marketing at Jobsgopublic. She has been with Jobsgopublic for five years. A member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, Olivia is also a University of Sheffield graduate and holder of a CIM Diploma in Digital Marketing. Olivia works closely with clients, introducing the most up-to-date marketing techniques to the public sector marketplace.

Jobsgopublic recently took on a challenging brief of recruiting 60 young people, aged 16 to 24, for Land Registry who were launching the first apprentice programme of their 150-year history. Fill in the form below to find out more.  

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