Apprenticeship Staff Support Programme

Learning for Leaders and Practitioners in the Third Sector.


Having worked on creating a whole organisational approach to employer engagement over a 6 month period at their respective training charities, here is the learning from our core project team of Anthony Harmer, Chief Executive, ELATT; James O’Donnell, Capital Skills Programme Manager, Bromley by Bow Centre; and Junior Makanjuola, Apprenticeship Recruitment Consultant, Bromley by Bow Centre.


Find out more about the Apprenticeship Staff Support Programme at the Education and Training Foundation.

Expanding your Recruitment Team

  1. Develop your assessors
  • Create a culture of employer engagement to encourage tutors and assessors to spot new vacancies at businesses they are already supporting – look out for opportunities for employed and existing staff to re-train.
  • Take Assessors and Tutors on walkabouts with employers; encourage them to shadow your Employer Engagement staff on the phone; train them to be able to use the Employer Engagement Script.


  1. Co-ordinate your departments
  • Ensure you train all departments at your organisation in how the Apprenticeship programme works – don’t assume all colleagues already understand how to promote Apprenticeships! For colleagues who don’t work with it on a daily basis, Apprenticeships are a complicated business – employer grants, funding rules, framework requirements. All staff need support to feel up to speed in order to be able to support your recruitment drive.
  • Once all staff are trained and aware, analyse with each team how they can contribute towards employer engagement, in particular where those colleagues already have access to or work with employers – different departments often have contact with employers but don’t always realise how to join-up their approaches.


  1. Develop your trustees
  • Use your charity’s Trustees as ambassadors for the organisation. Trustees have contacts, seniority and networks, and a strong affinity with the Charity’s cause – yet too often we fail to include them in promotion activities. Utilise them!


  1. Promote Apprenticeships through CSR (Corporate social responsibility)
  • As non-profit organisations, we are in an ideal position to promote Apprenticeships to business through their CSR objectives as well as their business objectives. Apprenticeships are good for the community, and many businesses want to give back to their communities!

Improving Internal and External Systems

  1. Revisit delivery models
  • Ensure you prioritise internal communication between staff and delivery teams, especially as you bring new teams into your employer engagement drive. Each team needs to know what progress their colleagues have made.
  • Use of e-portfolio is an accessible and flexible delivery model that can help communication between staff, employers and the apprentice.


  1. Communication and commitment
  • Focus on quality in your work with employers. Ensure you have the staff resources necessary to nurture and sustain relationships – at the very least a named person to hold overall responsibility for employer engagement.
  • Relationship building takes time – don’t expect immediate turn-around, especially when businesses need to set up an Apprenticeship programme from scratch. That’s a lot of internal work for a company.
  • Ensure close communication between employer and apprentice and assessor – at least monthly, but often fortnightly. This will help maintain rapport, which is equally vital the young person, often in their first job, as the employer.


  1. Offering a 360° recruitment service
  • Ensure your employer engagement staff have a realistic caseload – at Bromley-by-Bow Centre, a full-time Apprenticeship Recruitment Consultant has a caseload of 45 employers.
  • The Consultant offers a full recruitment service to those employers, with full follow up and customer service with the employer and apprentice over the long-term.

Values-Driven Delivery

  1. Equality and Diversity
  • Apprenticeships hold great potential in furthering Equality and Diversity objectives – and Equality and Diversity is a powerful message to employers that appeals to their CSR objectives as well as business objectives.
  • Employers wanted to support groups who had not always achieved in the mainstream education setting – they wanted to help individuals who needed a hands-on, practical learning experience rather than an academic one.


  1. The role of the Third Sector
  • Consider the strengths of your organisation and what sets it apart – play to your strengths as a non-profit organisation and as community leaders.
  • The Third Sector thrives when it is values-driven, looking to improve reach into otherwise unsupported employers and learners, offering flexibility and non-traditional delivery models.


  1. Marketing and Messaging
  • Notwithstanding that ‘USP’ of the Third Sector, we have to do our groundwork to compete in a very competitive skills market – ensure high quality PR, marketing, image and messaging – otherwise we won’t be able to compete and the opportunities for our beneficiaries could be lost.
  • Leverage on accreditation and kite marks to communicate a values-driven and quality service, such as Investors in People, Living Wage Employer status, emphasising social and environmental sustainability.

Summary and Next Steps

  1. Focus on employer engagement
  • The ASSP project has facilitated a new focus on employer engagement, bringing us improved resources, materials and motivation.


  1. Full staff training
  • To bring the full staff team with you, and make each colleague an employer-facing ambassador of the organisation, you need to engage with them on a strategic level.
  • That means offering all staff an opportunity to understand your vision for employer engagement, and a working knowledge of how the Apprenticeship programme operates.


  1. The central employer-facing role
  • It is vital to have a main focus point for employer engagement – an employer recruitment consultant who specialises in connecting the space between provider and employer.
  • Without this nominated role, you can only embed employer engagement to a more limited level.


  1. What next?
  • The main challenge for our organisations now is sustaining the learning from the project and embedding this into practice.
  • We also need to see how the new apprentices and employers develop over the next six months – and how we cope internally on a quality level now that we have more employer relationships and more apprentice starts to manage.