From education to employment

Are you apprentice ready?

Carole Carson, CEO, Babington

Babington CEO, Carole Carson, discusses how businesses, and not just apprentices, need to adapt their approach to the workplace:

Young people haven’t got the right skills for work.

The attitude towards work of this generation isn’t what it was in my day.

You sometimes hear this from employers. They blame the apprentice for not living up to their high expectations. But what if the bigger problem is that employers are the ones that have got it wrong?

What if the attitude of business needs to change to better support young people into the workplace, to reap the benefits of creating a vibrant and sustainable workforce?

These are big questions, with no easy answers, but definitely questions that employers need to ask themselves if they are going to deal with some of the major challenges they face to driving productivity, competitiveness, and growth.

No sector, or organisation is immune to the following ‘big ticket’ challenges:

  • Full employment. Whilst at face value, this is fantastic indicator for the economy, on many other levels this presents major challenges for business. Diminishing talent pools, competitors pinching your people, wage inflation, all things that make it tricky to attract and keep the best talent.
  • More vacancies than ever in recent history. This means lost productivity, lost opportunity and often increased stress for your people, which reduces engagement and can lead to high turnover, which leads to more vacancies, creating a vicious cycle.

So, what has this got to do with apprenticeships and what can you do about it?

Tapping alternative talent pools has never been more critical for business. Attracting your future workforce can no longer be considered a soft, social strategy, it is now a hard, commercial necessity.

And where better a place to start than with young people? Therein lies a rich vein of future talent just waiting for the businesses that think and do things differently to catch their attention and harness their potential.

Often overlooked, disparaged and discouraged from apprenticeships by messages from business and the educational establishment alike, there still lies a rich vein of future talent just waiting for the businesses that think and do things differently to catch their attention and harness their potential.

Many businesses still try to engage with their prospective people through the same tired methods. They still look in the same places, with the same messages, with no differentiated approaches based on who they want to attract.

They still run the same old recruitment processes as they do for every other recruit. It’s time to think differently.

Recruit with the experts

There are a range of high quality organisations and services within the apprenticeship space that can help you to identify, engage and attract the best talent into your organisations.

Reputable training providers such as Babington, provide a comprehensive, ‘end to end’ recruitment service, which takes the hassle out of managing the process in-house.

Babington are also expert at engaging with young people, understand their needs and matching them to the right roles and organisations. Which means that your new recruit is much more likely to stick and you get the return on investment that you’re looking for.

Working in partnership with an organisation that has both a track record and a commitment to service delivery not only offers your company the chance to work with new talented individuals, it also offers you the opportunity to create a desirable place to work.

Your brand and messages

What you say, how you say it and where you say it are all key things to consider if you want to raise awareness of your organisation and your opportunities. Find out where your target groups are both online and offline. Find out what would and wouldn’t attract them to your workplace.

Your employee proposition

Fair pay, sensible workload and reasonable hours all matter, but for young people in particular, the ‘whole employee offer’ is what they’re interested in:

  • What are the perks?
  • How will this job/company positively or negatively impact on my social life?
  • Are there opportunities for progression?
  • Does my company understand me?
  • Are they investing in me?
  • Will I enjoy the experience that this opportunity provides?

There is a long list of questions that young people (and many others too) will be asking themselves, and possibly you, to help them to decide whether you’re right for them.

Make sure you have good answers to these essential questions. You should be have solid answers to these questions, be ready to backup with examples and proof. An apprentice is interviewing you as much as you are interviewing them.

The importance of line managers

Great leaders and managers do exist. And where they don’t yet, they can be created. Look for the line managers who can engage and inspire. The managers who care about their people.

The managers who can show real empathy, but also who can deliver the tough messages when they’re needed. Work with the willing. Create advocates of apprenticeships who compel the rest to follow as they prove the benefits of investing in the future.


Perhaps one of the biggest influences over the success, engagement and retention of employees – especially those considered as ‘talent’ – is the degree to which they receive mentoring support. They can steer a younger or less experienced person through the choppy seas of a new career or role.

They can help them learn from all their experiences and interactions, helping them to reflect so that the experiences fuel their growth, rather than allowing them to become disaffected or absorbed into a prevailing culture.

The apprenticeship format encourages such mentor/mentee relationships to flourish and thereby builds a culture of support, development and reflection that usually leads to increased commitment, satisfaction and idea-generation.


About BabingtonBabington is an award-winning apprenticeship provider with an Ofsted ‘Good’ rating. Babington delivers flexible learning solutions for apprenticeships in financial services, leadership and management, business admin, sales and marketing, with an average 70% pass rate.

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