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Finding young talent is a central issue in industrial and craft enterprises. With young, motivated employees, the future of a company looks promising. Well-tried processes are questioned and, if necessary, improved with new ideas and a fresh approach. All of this helps to ensure that your business remains successful and competitive. But to do this, of course, you need junior staff who go to work with verve and expertise. Training these future professionals yourself on the job is one of the best ways to ensure that employees are familiar with your requirements and acquire the necessary expertise from the start. This guide will help you to successfully recruit apprentices for your company.
These criteria make you an attractive employer
Finding talented and committed apprentices requires an understanding of the needs of the younger generations. This allows you to best present the advantages of an apprenticeship in your company. What criteria do students consider today when searching for an apprenticeship with a potential future employer?
Apprenticeship pay during training is usually not particularly high, and no one expects it to be. In any case, studies show that meaningful work and a fulfilling private life are much more important to Generation Z than top pay. Nevertheless, you can score points if you offer benefits such as:
- Public transport ticket
- A NUS/TOTEM card
- Special leave
- Christmas and holiday bonuses
- Participation in the cycle to work scheme
Premiums for particularly good school grades and work performance are also conceivable. Be sure to make these benefits clear in your offer.
As a training company, you should expect your apprentices to want to learn and grow with their tasks. Plan a thorough induction phase and then assign a mentor to your trainees. An apprentice should always be able to turn to this person with questions and problems. In this way, you not only ensure that your apprentices feel comfortable in the company, but you can also become more aware of how best to support them and involve them in daily processes – a point that is extremely important to many apprentices.
If it is possible in your company, show your trainees that you are understanding of other commitments by offering flexible working hours, occasional home office days or reduced working hours during exam periods.
Room for innovation:
Create space for ideas and suggestions for improvement. This makes your trainees feel taken seriously and can even give your company a competitive edge. After all, young people see work with a completely different eye than a highly qualified employee who has already been working for you for decades. For example, the new generations of trainees have grown up completely in the digital age. You can use this to your advantage by using their knowledge and natural handling of digital technology and media to stand out from the competition.
Environmental and social concerns:
Many young people care about contributing to changing the world for the better in their daily lives. Highlight if your company is involved in social projects or has introduced environmentally friendly alternatives for certain work processes or raw materials.
Signal to Generation Z that they will not be left alone in training, but accepted as a full team member, that talent and potential will be promoted, ideas and opinions will be heard, and private life will be respected. This appreciation and transparent communication at eye level will make you a popular company for employing apprentices.
Why is it so difficult to find and hire a suitable apprentice?
Small and medium-sized enterprises in particular report that finding apprentices has become increasingly difficult over the years. A decline in birth rates is now making itself felt in the corresponding number of graduates. Fewer and fewer graduates are interested in trade apprenticeships. On the one hand, this is due to the fact that the reputation of apprenticeships in general has suffered. Low pay, hardly any say, poor promotion prospects and insufficient support: these are prejudices that are associated with training in the skilled crafts and that were certainly justified in the past.
Much has changed in the meantime: the proportion of women in skilled trade professions is increasing and digital progress is also making itself felt in work processes. But smaller companies in particular are not always good at communicating these changes and are failing to present themselves attractively when it comes to recruiting an apprentice. The Office for National Statistics shows that the salary development in trade occupations still cannot keep up with that in IT occupations. However, this does not mean that young people fundamentally reject apprenticeships in skilled trades such as construction or manufacturing. On the contrary. At a time when more and more people are complaining about office jobs that are not very meaningful and endless meeting marathons, trades are gaining in prestige again. Nevertheless, when it comes to employing an apprentice, you should always choose the way that’s best for your business.
How to: tips for successfully finding apprentices
In order to reach Generation Z, good apprenticeship marketing is indispensable. Finding apprentices means finding different ways to inspire potential people to join your company.
Set up a section on your website for vocational training. There you can store information on training content, but also on development opportunities. It is important that you clearly communicate the advantages of training in your company. Make sure you use short, meaningful texts, pictures and uncomplicated language.
Supplement the information with short video sequences in which you give an insight into everyday working life. These can be casual and entertaining but should always reflect reality. It is best to have the videos made by current trainees. They are very good at assessing what works online and appear trustworthy to their peers.
Offer the opportunity to do an internship in your company. This gives young people the chance to get a taste of everyday working life and everything that it entails. Whether they’re learning how to use a pallet truck or what’s included in a basic tool kit: no matter what the topic, during a work placement you can get to know potential trainees better and assess whether they are a good match for the company.
- Online job portals
Present your company on well-known job portals. The job exchange of the National Recruitment Agency offers the possibility to advertise free apprenticeship places. This is also possible at the Education & Skills Funding Agency exchange. Here you can search specifically for suitable apprentices, and if necessary you can receive personal advice.
Well-known sites such as LinkedIn, Monster or Indeed are also good places to present your company and post vacant apprenticeship positions. In contrast to the portal of the Chamber of Commerce or the employment agency, posting ads on these providers is subject to a fee, but offers the advantage that you can network with other specialists from your sector and find out about relevant events.
- Social Media
Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram or TikTok, think about a concept for your social media channels that you can use for recruiting a potential apprentice for your company. You can introduce employees in regular posts, ask current apprentices about their challenges, highlight interesting activities, introduce heavy tools and equipment or post funny everyday situations. The only important thing is that you present yourself unaffectedly as an open, young-at-heart company, provide the posts with meaningful hashtags and are well networked with other accounts in your industry. This way, you increase the chances that everyone who is interested in an apprenticeship will find your page.
- Training and career fairs
Book a stand at a regional training or career fair and adapt the presentation of your business to the target group. This is not a trade fair: so, it’s better to leave the sometimes grumpy shift supervisor in the company and instead take open, communicative colleagues and a few trainees with you to answer questions from interested pupils.
With funny or useful give-aways that include the company logo and website, you increase the chance that your company will be remembered by the fair visitors.
- Local advertising measures
Many future apprentices initially look for a training company near their hometown, so you should not underestimate regional advertising. Whether you sponsor a local sports club, cooperate with a school for project weeks or donate one of your work pieces to public institutions, choose a good cause that fits your beliefs and makes you known to the target group for your apprenticeships.
In addition, you can also cooperate with the local branch of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce and the Employment Agency to further expand your reach.
FAQ for finding apprentices
The constant decline in the number of births is now making itself apparent in the number of graduates. In addition, fewer and fewer graduates are interested in an apprenticeship, often because of prejudices: low pay, hardly any say in the matter, poor chances of promotion and insufficient support – these attributions are now outdated but are still often associated with an apprenticeship, particularly in construction or manufacturing. Smaller companies in particular are not always skilled at presenting themselves in a contemporary way and making themselves attractive to potential apprentices.
Generation Z lives digitally. Accordingly, search engines and social media are the first place young people looking for an apprenticeship. If you are looking to hire an apprentice, you should therefore definitely come up with a good online strategy for apprenticeship marketing on these channels. Young people also use online apprenticeship finder services, such as that on the government website or on job sites like Indeed or Monster.
Newspaper advertisements and job fairs offer a first point of reference for looking for trainees. But you can assume that the digital natives of Generation Z will then search for your company in search engines and social media, so you need to provide correspondingly meaningful content there. In addition, you can use regional advertising measures such as presentations at schools, participation in training and career fairs or through social commitments to make it known in the surrounding area that there are vacant training positions and positions for young professionals in your company.
Start looking for apprentices about 10 months before the start of the training period. Many students start looking for an apprenticeship at the beginning of their last school year, or at the beginning of the new year at the latest. The earlier you start your search, the more time you have to ensure that you find the best apprentices for your company during selection interviews and, if necessary, trial workdays.
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