Apprenticeship salaries: the big mistake

This was regardless of the sector, age of the students or the location of the employer

Out of 100,000 questions that I witnessed during workshops between employers and school leavers, the most frequently asked question from school leavers towards an employer was about pay and specifically how much it was. This was regardless of the sector, age of the students or the location of the employer.

So it still baffles me that many employers state ‘competitive pay’ on adverts (a common and somewhat lazy practise from graduate recruitment).

I remember a particular incident where I witnessed a bunch of young people who were keen to work for this particular large accountancy company and so they asked what the salary was. I was astounded to hear their response, “we cannot say”.

With so many prejudices around apprenticeships and it being such a huge decision for young people, employers should openly state the rate of pay. I would even pose the question of should it be mandatory for employers to have to do so.

It’s not only important to state the annual salary, but also to break it down by each month, week and even better, each day. This is simply how young people are used to thinking due to the way receive their personal allowance from parents or salary from part-time jobs.

A big annual salary can simply mean nothing to a young student at school or college and the data goes to show that by being transparent it can lead to more applications.

Dan Doherty from QA Apprenticeships says: “Candidates applying to roles advertised as “competitive” that then are told at a later stage what the salary actually is often disengage or withdraw. Second, the volume of applicants to a salary stated role vs “competitive” is usually higher, for the same level and programme in the same postal code. This should in theory widen the talent pool and potentially diversity.”

Elizabeth Betts, Head of Careers at a North London School says: Transparency is key. As employers, you are not just selling the apprenticeship to the young person you also have to convince the parents too.

“If you want to attract the best candidates especially at A level, then be clear about what you’re offering, reassure school leavers if there is a possibility of a job at the end and maybe make a direct comparison / reassurance that there will be promotion and progression opportunities just like there would be for graduates.

“Otherwise it’s just a leap of faith and not many are prepared to take a risk.”

In such a challenging market, where many employers are desperately trying to attract more applicants, a simple and potentially big change an employer can make is to state the salary.

Article by: Christos Orthodoxou, Founder of Class Careers

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