If you are looking to fill a skills gap in your team and are considering taking on an apprentice, but are unsure of all the facts, look no further. The team of recruitment experts at Parenta are on hand to give guidance to early years settings looking to upskill their staff and hire a new apprentice. Julie Allen, Parenta’s Recruitment Manager, gives her advice and top tips:

Provide your recruiter with your apprentice requirements in detail – take your time and be as thorough as you can. This will help find a candidate who’s tailored specifically to your needs and will also get the vacancy filled quicker.

Set time aside to communicate with recruiters – their role is to help you as much as they can! If a CV is sent over to you that looks suitable, get back to the recruiter straight away to let them know. If you delay, the candidate may have found a position elsewhere.

Prepare a full job description with duties and send to the recruiter. You can also give information about the ethos of your nursery. Include as much information as possible – this will help candidates get a feel for your setting and what they would be doing before attending an interview.

Ask candidates to prepare or research something prior to interview. For example, ask them to prepare an EYFS activity, or research what ‘safeguarding’ means. This will help you see if the candidate has made time to prepare for their interview.

Hold a trial day or session for your potential apprentice. This will show if the candidate interacts well with the children and uses their initiative. Do let the apprentice know what you’re hoping to get out of the session beforehand – many will be nervous!

Make sure you give feedback to your recruiter. This will help the candidate to improve when applying for other roles and will also help the recruiter when finding more suitable candidates for you.

Discuss and manage expectations once you have hired your apprentice. Young apprentices may not have much of an idea what is expected of them in a workplace such as dress code, punctuality and attitude. Talk to them regularly about how they’re getting on in the first few weeks and give them feedback.

Set a probation period and make it clear to your apprentice. If things aren’t going to work out, you’ll usually know in the first few weeks!

Arrange an enrolment meeting with your training provider in plenty of time before the apprentice starts the training. This will help your apprentice to understand which apprenticeship they’re completing. Make sure to check through the paperwork thoroughly so that nothing is missed, and the signup process will be quick and easy.

If the apprentices that you hire are aged 16–18, you won’t need to pay anything at all for their training. If they are aged over 18, you could be eligible for a grant to help cover your costs. From April 2019, the government is introducing a 50% reduction in apprenticeship contributions from providers – from 10% to 5% – even more reason to take on an apprentice!

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