David Allison, CEO and Jenny Dallas, Marketing Executive & Chartered Manager Degree Apprentice at GetMyFirstJob, discuss the ways to diversify apprenticeship access. GetMyFirstJob is a platform offering a new way for young people to find their first Apprenticeship or Traineeship.
Diversity and Social Inclusion is not a new agenda. It’s been around for years, but at times it can seem that despite the major progress made in other business areas, we aren’t making fast enough progress here. Recent university admissions data and associated publicity have highlighted very publicly the issues that Oxbridge face on this agenda.
The inclusion agenda is also not a ‘soft’ HR theme; it has real significance to the performance of organisations as well as simply being the right thing to do. In a world where we are forecasting significant skills issues, particularly with the triple challenges of Brexit, near full employment and current demographics, it is something we need to get very serious about, very quickly. We are increasingly seeing organisations recognise this, and one way of making a relatively speedy impact is to address the hiring process. For organisations that are actively involved with the apprenticeship agenda, this is an obvious starting point. Many employers are therefore looking for young people from more diverse backgrounds to hire into their apprenticeship programmes.
GetMyFirstJob.co.uk regularly sees in excess of 100,000 visitors a month, and we’ve had almost 400,000 people register with us in the last few years as part of their search as they make the transition into work. We work with colleges, universities, training providers and employers to enable us to reach our mission: to make more options open to more young people, more easily. This data set, along with over 1.3m applications and searches, several hundred thousand roles and the data from the application process, provides a unique insight into this topic.
This data tells us a number of things that operate across the UK’s labour market. In most cases, the challenge of inclusion begins with the aspiration of the young, and there are ingrained social behaviours we can see here. This ranges from the incredible North South divide, where if you are young in the north, it is statistically more likely that you will aspire (and apply) to a role in warehousing or childcare, but in the south, financial services and media are the roles of choice.
Nationally, when considering the aspirations of young people between engineering and childcare, the gender stereotyping is truly incredible. We don’t recognise the 20% – 30% swing that is sometimes talked about; we see it as an 80% change in behaviour based on gender. We are also able to look at specific ethnic groups to help understand their aspirations, and again we find different behaviours across far smaller geographies such as London boroughs.
So, we need to work far harder to break down these pre-ordained aspirations which become destinations. They’ve come about over years of conditioned behaviour and thinking, but for us, are the starting point in addressing inclusion.
We’ve also used the data to look at recruitment processes. Whilst this data is not as comprehensive, it shows some worrying trends. First, we can see that most recruitment processes are flawed before they start. If you don’t have a representative group of high quality applicants, the chances of getting a representative group of high quality hires is pretty much zero.
Second, whilst many organisations work hard on blind selection processes, our data shows that this typically fails at the point you start face-to-face selection. We don’t know why, but data suggests that at this stage of the process a number of other factors kick in. In some cases, even where organisations are working hard to address these challenges, there is a significant reality gap between the aspirations of the organisations, and the decisions of hiring managers. Variations to representative hiring groups very often vary by over 50% in the final stages of the interview process.
So, what should be done?
- As a whole, society needs to work harder to communicate more effectively with young people. We need to avoid the implicit messages that are often communicated about careers and life destinations, whether it is the media in general or specific job adverts. Imagery, language and role models play a huge part in this.
- It is possible to use data intelligently to drive messages out to a representative group who we know might otherwise not apply. Intelligent and targeted message creation, communication and candidate search will drive applications from under-represented groups up to appropriate levels. At GetMyFirstJob, this is one of our unique platform advantages.
- The recruitment process itself needs to be closely monitored to ensure that the stages of attraction, engagement and selection are managed effectively.
At GetMyFirstJob, we know that a structured approach to attraction, engagement and selection can deliver amazing results, but these things do not happen by chance.
See all of the Sutton Trust #BetterApprenticeships campaign guest blogs.