What do the successful companies do, and how does it apply to a business employing apprentices?
In 2016, Fortune magazine published a list of five things a company can do to attract millenial talent. To paraphrase, the five things were: work-life balance, professional development opportunities, provide regular feedback, provide meaning to the job and offer some perks, mainly because it reflects a nurturing environment.
Fast Company produced their list of 5 in 2015. Again paraphrasing, they were connecting with candidates early (they talked about internships while still in college), using digital processes for hiring, offering a flexible workplace with opportunities for advancement, professional development opportunities, and what they call a fun work culture.
CNN Money had a story about it in 2015. Work-life balance, frequent promotions and raises, regular feedback and meaningful work with some autonomy about how they do it.
In October 2016, The Guardian cited meaningful work that makes a difference, and corporate social responsibility, especially demonstrating a commitment to environmental sustainability.
Business.com had the same sort of list: meaningful work, promotions and perks, showcasing talented people already there (ie the talent they will be working with), professional development and flexibility.
So there you go. All of them have similar themes with a few variations. But all of them seemed to be talking about large white collar workforces in big corporations. How does any of this relate to a small business looking to employ one or two millennials as apprentices? Well there are some ideas in there that we can make use of.
Let’s boil these suggestions down to a few common themes:
- professional development opportunities,
- opportunities for advancement,
- meaningful work,
- work-life balance and job flexibility,
- regular feedback,
- offer some perks in a fun work culture.
These are the common themes and relate to the work environment you can offer. There are also some extra recruitment suggestions about connecting with candidates early, showcasing talented people and using digital processes for hiring.
What about offering professional development opportunities? Let’s roll that in with the one about showcasing talented people already there. Apprenticeships already are professional development opportunities. You could be saying “learn from the best”, that is, the tradespeople already there. You could also offer additional training in higher level skills for those who progress well. TAFEs and RTOs can help you decide what sorts of additional training is appropriate.
It shouldn’t be too hard to sell opportunities for advancement. Do you intend to keep on the apprentice after they finish if they work out well? Is there the possibility they could end up being a team leader? Are you supportive of competency based wage progression? These things could be in your advertisement.
Meaningful work can be problematic, but there’s always something you can do. Do you use sustainable materials? Do you make environmentally sustainable products? No? Is there a social benefit to what you do or what you make? No? Can you involve your recruit in future decisions about the business’ directions? There must be something you can offer besides a pay packet and a qualification.
Work-life balance and job flexibility sound difficult for a trade-based business but again there are things you can offer. Is there an option of starting earlier or working on Saturdays if they have to leave early for personal reasons? Yes? That’s a flexible workplace. Would you allow an apprentice an extra two weeks’ unpaid leave during the year to travel overseas? Yes? You’re starting to sound like Google!
Regular feedback is an easy one for employers of apprentices. It’s what you should be doing anyway. Don’t just limit it to when they get results from the RTO. Provide it regularly on the job, both bad and good, and do it constructively. That way you can honestly describe your business as offering a supportive learning environment.
The last one there, about perks and a fun work culture, can be a problem. We have all seen the job ads about fun workplaces, but who believes them? Do you have fun at work? You’re not David Brent are you? Perhaps you can focus on the supportive learning culture. You won’t get bawled out for making an honest mistake. And you finish early on Fridays.
The other suggestions about recruitment strategies apply well to apprentices. Connecting with candidates early Is easy. Some employers of apprentices have been doing this for years. Rather than internships while still in college, think about work experience or part time apprenticeships while still at school. It’s the same idea. You get to the cream of the crop early, and if you play it right you earn their loyalty before they enter the full-time workforce.
The final one about digital recruitment is also one to consider, and this is not just about using SEEK. Perhaps direct people to an online quiz where they can see if they are suited to your work. There are some good ones at AAT info that are freely available.
So there is the latest thinking about employing young people. The ad almost writes itself. There are also a few tips about keeping them on once they’ve got there. We will make this a subject of a future blog.
Apprentice Progression manages all aspects of competency based wage progression and completion. We also help businesses recruit apprentices. Visit Apprentice Progression and fill in the online form for a prompt call back, or contact Peter on 0437 305 524 for more information.