Apprenticeships toolkit

For employers

Apprenticeships

Outreach

Create engagement opportunities early and for a wide range of people.


You may well meet your most capable apprentices in the least obvious places. If you want to attract candidates from a range of backgrounds, you also need to adapt your outreach strategy in order to connect with future apprentices where they currently are.

See your outreach participants as the future of your business and treat them as such – investing effort, time, resources and energy in building relationships with them.

  • Who is your outreach for?
    Develop a clear picture of who you want to reach and how this relates to your organisational goals; think about their backgrounds, experiences and locations (including where they might be in the organisation if you are also recruiting existing staff). Although apprenticeships are open to all ages, there has been an underinvestment in apprenticeships for younger people. Think about which age group is the best fit for your programme and whether taking on younger apprentices could be an option for your organisation.
  • Where and how can you connect with the people you want to reach?
    To employ people who are not in your current network, you need to widen your horizon. Rather than expecting them to come to you, do your research and partner with relevant organisations in social mobility ‘coldspots’1 or areas with high levels of free school meals whenever possible (see more in step 2 below). You may also consider specialist platforms such as the BAME Apprenticeship Alliance portal. Be creative and make use of different channels, including public spaces and social media.
  • When does your outreach start?
    Connecting with potential applicants starts much earlier than the time they leave school or are looking for new work. Explore ways in which you can build relationships earlier on, for example, through things like employability programmes offered by charities such as the Prince’s Trust. This also goes for engaging potential internal candidates. If you are looking to engage school leavers, start advertising in the spring.

“Smaller businesses might not have time to invest in a really complex recruitment process. But there are many ways for SMEs to open up their doors to introduce people to their business throughout the year, and these can also be excellent for attracting a more diverse pool of potential employees. Work experience, traineeships and kickstart are all relatively easy ways you can bring individuals in, get to know them and see if there’s that connection.”
– Anna Morrison, Director, Amazing Apprenticeships

  • What barriers to participation might there be and how can you address them?
    Working with current or former apprentices or relevant partner organisations can help you think this through. Consider factors such as:

    Place: Is the venue accessible? Easy to get to? Has good transportation links?

    Time: Are you running activities during a time that makes it possible for people to engage who are working, parents or carers?

    Content: Are your activities accessible for disabled people, neurodivergent people and people with a learning disability?

    Language: Are you describing your programme in a way that is relevant, simple and clear for applicants, including those whose first language isn’t English? Can you avoid jargon?

    Money: If you can’t go to where people live, are you able to cover travel expenses, childcare and offer meals for the duration of in-person activities? Are you able to offer support with equipment, internet connectivity and access to an appropriate environment to engage in virtual activities?

Don’t go it alone. Partnerships are indispensable for effective outreach work, because apprenticeship providers are only a part of a complex web of people and organisations that play a role in making them happen. Use our directory to find delivery partners. Consider working with:

  • Education providers such as non-fee-paying schools and FE colleges that have more diversity in their student bodies. Where schools and colleges have limited capacity, engage with career hubs and explore ways in which your outreach work can add value to what they are already doing.
  • Community organisations such as charities, community cafes, sports clubs or youth centres. Consider the ages and backgrounds of the applicants you’re trying to connect with, and find people who can be relatable role models for them.
  • Job centres. They are the place many people go to in order to look for work and receive benefits and a great way to advertise apprenticeships more widely, particularly for bulk recruitment.
  • Career coaches. Offering free bespoke careers advice as part of your outreach work can be a great way to help people figure out if a place on your apprenticeship programme is for them.
  • Employers, particularly SMEs that work in the same area. SMEs have a strong presence in social mobility ‘coldspots’ and deliver more apprenticeships in these areas than other employers, often on a small budget. Larger employers or training providers partnering with SMEs, or several small companies pooling resources together can unlock new possibilities.

1Areas with particularly low social mobility. For a list of local authorities and regions, see Social Mobility Commission (2017) State of the Nation 2017: Social mobility in Great Britain, page 5″

Example

Since late 2020, West & North Yorkshire Learning Providers (WYLP) have been partnering with OneFile and Pudsey Computers to wipe, upgrade and distribute donated devices to apprentices and learners in the FE sector so they could continue their programmes from home. WYLP have also supported local training providers to include digital literacy in their curriculum.