Using apprenticeships to recruit talent post Covid-19

Are you struggling to recruit new talent post Covid-19? You’re not alone. But did you know the solution could lie with apprentices?

If you ask any business in Lancashire about their current challenges, one key message emerges across all sectors: recruitment is tough right now.

All businesses are sharing the challenge of recruiting new talent to their business in the wake of Covid-19. The challenges are varied – there’s flexible working challenges, skills gaps and a lack of local talent in key industries – to name a few.

At Blackburn College we are well aware of the challenges businesses face – it’s why our most recent Ofsted report comments: “Leaders have successfully fostered excellent relationships with local and regional partners and employers.” The report states these partnerships have resulted in: “A curriculum that meets local and regional needs and provides high-quality work experience for students and apprentices.”

Given the challenges recruiting, Blackburn College is now working with many businesses to look at their workforce to assess how to nurture their existing talent, to meet future business needs.

Through these discussions, what many businesses don’t realise is how flexible apprenticeship schemes can be in developing a workforce. With apprenticeships available at different levels – and in disciplines as varied as sewing and textiles, to customer service/team leader and digital marketing roles, many businesses can use apprenticeships to retrain, retain and grow existing employees.

Gone are the days of apprenticeships being seen as an alternative, practical route to a job instead of university for 16-year-olds. These days a significant number of employers use apprenticeships to upskill their existing employees and support growth in their businesses.

For those that have recruited someone new, many businesses don’t realise government incentives and grants are available. So, if you’ve taken on an employee after 1st October 2021 but before 31st January 2022, you could be eligible for a £3,000 incentive payment when your new starter signs up to an apprenticeship training programme with Blackburn College.

Claire Shore, senior business development manager says: “Blackburn College will work with businesses of any size across Lancashire to help succession plan and create a pipeline of future talent. We’ll listen to your needs and help grow your perfect workforce. We’ll help with the paperwork and try to make things as easy as possible for you to get an incentive payment.”

Apprenticeships are often a solution for future workforce planning – allowing you to think ahead and consider options for training your existing staff into new roles, filling posts in advance, or introducing new services. They can also help you identify areas where staff might need re-training as you adapt, develop and grow your business.

Case study: Excelling in End Point Assessments

Significant changes have been made to apprenticeships as the government has phased out previous apprenticeship frameworks to be replaced with new “standards”.

An apprenticeship standard contains a list of the skills, knowledge and behaviours an apprentice will need to have learned by the end of their apprenticeship. Standards are occupation-focused; they are not qualification-led.

The learning happens throughout the apprenticeship. And the apprentice is assessed at the end.

But end-point assessments are proving challenging for many providers. Blackburn College will work closely with you to monitor the progression of your apprentice to ensure they are fully prepared as their EPA is required to complete their qualification.

Blackburn College has been at the forefront of the transition from apprenticeship frameworks to standards and the results have been outstanding.

Graduate designer at Mojo Hair and Beauty, Holly Redfearn, is one of the latest students to undertake an End Point Assessment with Blackburn College.

She said: “I had to complete a full day practical observation with questioning but I felt really prepared beforehand and that was down to the practical experience that I had built up and the knowledge, skills and behaviours that my tutors had helped me to learn whilst a college.

“I have waited a long time for this due to Covid-19 but I was able to be more than prepared for the EPA having had lots of support from my teachers who continued to deliver training during lockdown and worked with me on finalising my practical skills once the salon reopened.

“I’m really proud and happy to have completed my End Point Assessment with a Distinction.”

Blackburn College:

  • Rated “Good” for Apprenticeships by Ofsted
  • Top 10 in England for 16-18 year old Advanced Apprenticeship success
  • Top College in Lancashire for All Age Apprentice Success
    (Qualification Achievement Rates 2018-19)

If you want to find out more about how we can help and support your business, call the Apprenticeship Team on: 01254 29 25 00 or email: