Over a third (37%) of businesses view apprentices as the most valuable source of emerging talent in 2018.
That’s according to a poll of over 2,000 senior recruitment and HR professionals carried out by global talent acquisition and management specialist, Alexander Mann Solutions.
The data follows the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy in April last year, and despite the fact that new apprenticeship starts reportedly dropped 59% immediately after its launch.
Previous research from Alexander Mann Solutions found that over two-thirds (71%) of senior recruitment and HR leaders believe the Apprenticeship Levy will ultimately create a new route into the workplace to supplement or rival graduate intake. But in its latest survey, Alexander Mann Solutions found that graduates remain the favoured talent pool for entry-level recruits, with just under half (47%) of respondents naming university leavers as the most valuable source of emerging talent this year.
However, 28% of respondents admitted that they were finding it more difficult to fill graduate roles this season, with just 12% reporting that sourcing and securing the relevant skills is currently easier than it has been in other cycles.
Commenting on the data, Sandrine Miller, head of emerging talent consulting at Alexander Mann Solutions, said: “As these findings suggest, leaders are certainly reassessing where they source fresh talent. And while graduates remain the preferred choice for the highest percentage of businesses, there are signs that the tide is shifting.
“UCAS reported last year that university applications have decreased by 4%, and while there will always be demand for graduate-level talent, HR Leaders are increasingly considering the benefits of developing talent in-house, where the role allows, as part of a wider total workforce strategy.”
And with National Apprenticeship Week (5–9 March) now on the horizon, the Education & Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) recently announced that employers can now transfer up to 10% of their apprenticeship fund to any other organisation, such as another employer in their industry or a business in their supply chain, provided that both parties are registered on the apprenticeship service. This will allow firms that are currently unable to take advantage of paying the levy, for example if they do not provide apprenticeships, to receive a limited benefit.
Sandrine continued: “News that new apprenticeship starts have fallen by 59% since the Apprenticeship Levy was introduced is most likely indicative of how businesses are reassessing long-term needs – and taking the time they need to plan and implement new programmes. In other words, it’s the calm before the storm.”