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When is the right time to recruit degree apprentices?

This is a question that our partnership team are often asked during initial conversations with employers. In order to give the most specific answer to this question and avoid being vague, we are going to presume that the apprenticeship seekers are in Year 13, studying at College or Sixth Form. This would mean that they are 18-years-old. Within this age group, we usually find that there are three “waves” of candidates.


The “Sure and Eager” Apprenticeship Seekers

We see the first wave in September/October. These are the students that know they want to do an apprenticeship, have already decided that university is not the route for them and, usually, already have a list of employers that they plan to apply to. You can expect these candidates to have a clear idea of what they want to do, however, it is likely that they will be unsure about their predicted grades at this point in the year.


The “Keeping my options open” Apprenticeship Seekers

Our second wave is in January/February. These are the students who have completed their UCAS application, but who also want to look at apprenticeship options. A degree apprenticeship could be their first or second choice, but they have decided to focus on their UCAS application first due to the January deadline. You can also expect these candidates to have a clear idea of what they want to do, after all, they have just applied to study the subject at university!


The “Oh @(&$ the year has finished” Apprenticeship Seekers

Lastly, we will see another wave of candidate applications in May/June. These are the latecomers - the ones who have completed their A Level, T Level or BTec exams and then decided to start applying. There is nothing wrong with being a late comer, but these students often find that they have missed several opportunities that, if they have been in previous “waves”, they would have applied to. These candidates can be a little more open to industries and career paths.


To conclude, there is no “right” wave that early careers teams should focus on. We would suggest having an “always recruiting” method throughout the year, keeping job adverts open until they are filled, will allow you to attract applications from each wave. This would mean opening your applications in September and keeping each role open until you find the right candidate. We would recommend increasing your marketing for the roles within each of the waves to maximise applications.


If you need help to plan your apprenticeship calendar, create content that young people will engage with or want to advertise your roles on the NGTU website, please get in touch.


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