How apprenticeships help retention rates

Apprenticeships can be key to improving talent retention, according to George Dee.

According to a report by the Skills Funding Agency, 80% of companies who invest in apprentices report an increase in staff retention. In this article, let’s look at specific industry success, explore why apprentices stay, and highlight methods for improving retention rates.

Clear results in a problem sector

To illustrate how apprenticeships can affect retention rates, I’ll look at a sector that’s well known for its high staff turnover rates: hospitality. A recent report by Deputy found that hospitality employee turnover rate was 30%, double the UK’s average.

Within this industry, Pubcos are notorious for having poor staff retention rates.Four of the largest UK Pubcos have an average team turnover of 84%, but their apprentice turnover is only 39% on average. One of the top Pubcos has an overall employee turnover of 78%, but only a 15% turnover of apprentices.

Why do apprentices stay?

The lessons learned in the hospitality industry are relevant across every sector, especially others which suffer from high turnover rates such as care and retail. The success comes from identifying the main reasons for employees leaving and utilising an apprenticeship scheme to solve it.

Apprenticeships are an opportunity for development, and with the right onboarding process and support these young learners will develop a real sense of brand loyalty.

Here are four reasons why apprentices are more likely to stay than other team members:

Candidates are driven

A vast majority of applicants are specifically seeking out an apprenticeship, particularly at entry level. A learner actively seeking out an apprenticeship is likely to be a focused individual, with a clear incentive to stay within the business.

A sense of loyalty

If you’re bringing in new talent for an entry-level apprenticeship, in many cases it will be the candidate’s first full-time job. Apprenticeships are an opportunity for development, and with the right onboarding process and support these young learners will develop a real sense of brand loyalty.

Structured progression

With many apprenticeships, candidates are applying not just because of the direct training available but for the opportunity of further development. Apprenticeships are mapped to specific roles and show learners a clearly mapped career progression.

With the right onboarding process, apprentices will quite clearly see pathways from Level 2 entry level upwards. Employees understanding their next career step can be within the company is a clear way of helping keep talent.


Nurturing confidence

Apprenticeships create a real sense of confidence in the learner, an important aspect for developing future talent. A key example is with advanced apprenticeships such as management programmes. You see assistant managers take the plunge because they can understand the structured progression the apprenticeship will offer.

The clear structure helps alleviate anxieties from internal candidates looking to move to the next level of their career.

Tips for increasing employee retention

Apprenticeships are just one tool companies can use to drive retention rates and should be supported by focusing on improving employee experience. Listen to employees, collect insights, action improvements, and most of all develop a sense of community within the business.

Here’s four areas to focus on when supporting a training scheme to improve retention rates.

The onboarding process

Having a clear onboarding process is hugely important in helping retention rates. The onboarding process should instil the company’s culture, explain roles and responsibilities, and clearly demonstrate avenues for career development.

The best examples are clients with senior management that take an active role in inductions. Having the CEO meet a cohort of apprentices is a good way of creating an open and engaging atmosphere. A robust, structured onboarding process is particularly important with retention rates in the first six months.

Cohorts and workshops

Creating cohorts of apprentices is a good way of creating a sense of shared experience and community within the business. Workshops, visits to food providers, and CEO meetups are all good examples of cohort activity, though this may only be applicable to businesses which have a large pool of apprentices.

Screening process

An important aspect is the candidate screening process. Screen both external applications and internal nominations against the eligibility criteria agreed by your clients. But the key for any screening process is to make sure candidates are not just eligible, but suitable for the role too.

Understanding if a candidate will enjoy the role and know responsibilities helps with retention rates further down the line.

Support network

A mentoring scheme is an important addition, especially with young or inexperienced team members. Having an outlet for professional support can help build confidence in an inexperienced team member.


About the author

George Dee is the recruitment manager at Lifetime Training.


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