Apprenticeships and internships are now commonplace in many early talent recruitment strategies, but have you considered vocational trainee programmes for school leavers?

According to the Confederation of British Industry (2017), work placements for a week or two remain the most widespread work experience, being offered by more than nine in ten of firms providing work experience.

While a couple of weeks within a company can provide young people with basic insight, more needs to be done to provide meaningful opportunities to allow young talent to become work-ready.

A survey by CIMA (2016) found that eight out of ten British school-leavers lack essential business skills and require significant training before being put to work.

No one knows the importance of experience and skills more than an employer, but for young people who have left education and are starting out in the businesses world it can be difficult to develop these necessary attributes.

While apprenticeships and internships might spring to mind as a way of developing young people, it’s also worth employers considering trainee offerings.

Trainee programmes help young people, typically aged 16-24, who don’t yet have the skills and experience they need for the workplace.

Trainee programmes in practice

The Brokerage has been working with Newton Investment Management Limited since 2012, partnering with them to recruit bright, motivated young Londoners for their Vocational Trainee Programme (VTP).

The benefits of a vocational training programme are two-fold. The young trainees are equipped with the necessary skills and exposure, while employers gain access to fresh talent that they’re able to nurture for their future talent pipelines.

Chief Operating Officer at Newton, Andrew Downs, explains: “The vocational trainee programme enables us to recruit smart, competent young people into starter positions here at Newton. Not only are they extremely well-motivated and hardworking, their age and educational backgrounds bring great diversity of thought into the firm. The high retention rate means that these individuals continue to benefit our business, both in their day-to-day work and in supporting other trainees through the programme.”

Young people have been recruited through The Brokerage into a variety of departments within Newton, including the middle office functions that support the investment process and the relationship management of Newton clients, positions within the investment operations team administering the investment transactions, and desktop support roles within the technology team.

The vocational trainee programme runs for three and a half years, and provides candidates with the opportunity to work at Newton while studying towards an HND in Business (accounting & finance) for the first two years, followed by further studies towards a BA hons degree in Business Studies – all fully funded by Newton.

With schemes like this, young people from all backgrounds are able to develop to the high-standard they’re capable of.

Andrew Downs offers his advice for businesses looking to introduce a similar scheme to their company,

If you have never recruited school leavers before, it requires careful preparation. You will need to devise a recruitment process that looks for core skills and personality traits that will fit into your culture. You will also need complete buy-in from the hiring managers, as the trainees will need support and mentoring as they adjust to the programme, and to working life in general. You need to view the programme as a long-term investment and think carefully about where you will place the trainees so that each is well-supported in their role, and in the delivery of their college work.”

In 2018, Newton introduced a technology-focused programme which offers an alternative HND option in Computing.  The opportunity to work and learn is very appealing to many young people The Brokerage works with, who are keen to kick-start their careers after leaving school while still progressing academically.

The Brokerage supports Newton with the recruitment process by advertising, shortlisting, coordinating interviews and providing feedback to all candidates.

The retention rate at Newton is high for the programme. To date, there have been six BA graduates of the programme, and all but one remain with the firm.  There are a further eleven trainees at various stages of the programme, and work is in progress on the recruitment of three new trainees for the 2019 intake.

If you’re an employer looking to set up a recruitment scheme, why not consider a vocational trainee programme?

Five employer benefits of recruiting school leavers:

  1. Diversity of thought
    Recruiting young people can support diversity of thought within a business. School leavers bring a fresh perspective, helping organisations to avoid “groupthink” and drive innovation. 

  2. Strong candidates
    Those looking to go straight into full-time employment after education have a lot to offer in terms of hunger to learn and passion, and those we have supported with employability skills training can also bring knowledge and skills. They’re able to produce a high standard of work, in some cases at the same level as their graduate counterparts, which will add value to your business.

  3. Retention and loyalty
    A young person who has been recruited into a company and supported through opportunities of growth and development is highly likely to see their future as being part of that business.  

  4. Developing young people
    As a school-leaver enters the world of work, they’re ready and eager to put what they’ve learnt into practice and develop their skills further. Recruiting an individual fresh out of education provides an opportunity for an employer to have a positive impact on the individual and pave the way for their success within the organisation.

  5. Supporting local communities
    School leavers seeking employment at your company will most likely be from your local area. Recruiting local talent demonstrates a real commitment to supporting your community. Providing support through vocational trainee schemes, apprenticeships or entry level roles can enable young people without family connections to the professional world to gain access to exciting careers on their doorstep.

First published by the Institute of Student Employers in The Student Employer (pages 20-22)