Employers recruiting apprentices should bear in mind that many technical skills will be taught during the apprenticeship; applicants will not necessarily have them when they are applying, especially younger people with little or no experience in the workplace.
Instead, employers should look for candidates that can demonstrate basic skills and qualities, which show an aptitude for the work and training they will undergo on the apprenticeship scheme.
During interviews and assessment days, and on application forms, employers should look for the following in potential apprentices:
Good spelling, grammar and punctuation
Aside from being important for communication during an apprenticeship (especially if it is a client-facing role), this demonstrates that the candidate has taken the time to proofread their application form – showing a level of care and commitment
This is vital, especially for young people who have not had full time jobs before – enthusiasm means an applicant will be motivated to get out of bed every morning, and driven enough to learn new skills on the job.
Saturday jobs, paper rounds, volunteering, taking on responsibilities at school (organising events, heading up a club) – these are all ways that even a 16-year-old can demonstrate a good work ethic, and show that they will be a hard-working apprentice
These needn’t be especially technical (remember – a young person will have limited on-the-job experience), but employers should ensure applicants have the basics required for that specific apprenticeship programme. For example, Siemens run aptitude tests that will tell them if somebody has the right cognitive ability to pick up engineering skills. They also send candidates up a tower to test their ability to cope with heights if they would be working on wind farms.
Interpersonal skills and team-work
Like any potential employee, it’s important that apprentices are able to work as part of a team and develop good working relationships with colleagues. This can be assessed during interviews and/or group assessment sessions.