Growing your business with apprenticeships (webinar)

Thursday 19 July 2018, 14:00 BST

Hiring an apprentice is a productive and efficient way for any business to cost-effectively recruit and upskill their workforce, ensuring they can grow their own talent and develop a motivated and qualified team.

This Personnel Today webinar, in association with the National Apprenticeships Service, will look at how apprenticeships can help grow your business.

Thousands of SMEs benefit from apprenticeships and employers that have an established apprenticeship programme report a wide range of benefits as a result of training apprentices, with 78% stating that productivity has improved and 86% of employers saying that apprenticeships developed skills relevant to their organisation.

Other benefits that apprenticeships contribute towards include:

  • increasing employee satisfaction
  • reducing staff turnover
  • saving on recruitment costs.

Employers can access significant funding: if you have a pay bill of less than £3 million a year then you could get 90% of your apprenticeship costs paid and if you have fewer than 50 staff, you could get 100% of your apprenticeship costs covered.

Register now to find out how an apprenticeship can help grow your business.

In this 60-minute webinar, Personnel Today’s editor Rob Moss is joined by Clare Bonson, head of intermediary engagement at the National Apprenticeships Service, and Claire Bennison, head of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) in the UK.

This free webinar includes a live Q&A session where our speakers will answer any questions about funding, recruitment, ROI and support.

Register now to reserve your place

About our speakers

Clare Bonson is head of intermediary engagement for the National Apprenticeships Service. Clare joined the National Apprenticeship Service at its inception in 2009 as the Learner Services Director in Yorkshire and the Humber. After a period working nationally on key policy developments she became the national lead on relationships with intermediaries in 2016. She provides in-depth support to intermediary organisations to facilitate their positioning as experts and utilise their connections to extend the reach of apprenticeships into new business sectors and regions.

Claire Bennison is head of ACCA UK and works with finance leaders and their training functions in the UK and beyond to build world-class finance capability. Her team ensure that partners choosing ACCA get the best return on their investment, recognising the value of the breadth and depth of knowledge and experience of ACCA qualified professionals across the finance value chain. Before joining ACCA in 2011 as its head of employer relationships, Claire was organisational effectiveness and development adviser at the CIPD.

Hiring slows slightly as employers struggle to find candidates

Retail was one of the only sectors where demand for staff slowed


Growth in hiring slowed while salaries continued to rise during June, according to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation.

Its latest Report on Jobs showed that while permanent placements and temporary billings continued to rise, this was at a slower rate than in previous months.

This could be attributed to a further deterioration in the availability of candidates, according to the REC, which in turn has forced many employers to push up salaries to attract potential employees. Both permanent and temporary candidate availability declined at sharper rates at the end of the second quarter of this year, it said.

Demand for permanent staff reached a seven-month high in June, and salaries awarded to new permanent employees experienced a corresponding increase. Rates of pay for temporary and contract staff also jumped at a similar level seen to April, when rates of growth hit a two-year peak.

Neil Carberry, the REC’s new chief executive, said it was “a candidate’s market out there”.

He added: “Across the majority of sectors, both temporary and permanent opportunities are growing, and a lack of candidates means it is no surprise to see starting pay also rising.

“Recruiters report that some of this high vacancy rate may be driven by good demand from companies not being matched by candidate willingness to move in the face of the current economic uncertainty.

Demand for staff rose across both the public and private sectors at the end of the second quarter, though this was more marked in the private sector, according to the REC. The slowest rise was in demand for permanent public sector staff.

In terms of sectors, IT and computing experienced the highest demand for permanent workers, while blue-collar employers showed the greatest need for temporary staff. Demand for both permanent and temporary employees in retail stagnated, reflecting some of the recent turbulence affecting high-street employers.

“The one sector that stands out as in a different place is retail,” said Carbery. “Placements are stagnating as the sector reshapes quickly, driven by changing customer demand and stiff competition.

“But the type of customer service skills retail workers develop are in huge demand in other sectors, and the sheer size of our retail sector means there are still opportunities in stores.”

Demand for permanent roles was steepest in the Midlands, while the weakest was in London, the REC found.

Three-quarters of HR leaders want more help in hiring for cultural fit

Lewis Tse Pui Lung /

Almost all HR leaders feel cultural fit is crucial when hiring, yet only 11% are satisfied with how they achieve this, according to research from technology company ThriveMap.

Ninety-six percent of HR leaders responding to ThriveMap’s survey said they prioritised cultural fit, yet 89% wanted to improve their recruitment processes in this regard.

Just over three-quarters (77%) of companies admitted to using gut feel when assessing candidates, potentially opening themselves up to inconsistencies and bias in their recruitment processes.

Where companies were taking steps to improve how they hired for good cultural fit, 92% of them said they used targeted interview questions.

Almost two-thirds used specific competency questions, and 15% said they tried to reduce bias by ensuring that candidates were interviewed by multiple people.

Chris Platts, CEO of ThriveMap, said that companies could be wasting “a huge amount of time and money” by hiring people ill-suited to their culture.

He said: “89% of hiring failures are down to cultural reasons, rather than a capability to do the job.

“Finding a smarter way to hire candidates, who not only have the right skills but also work in a complementary way to their team could make a significant difference to a company’s bottom line.

“We see cultural fit not as a test of personality but a measure of how well people will work with and for each other.”

Dr Stephanie Cook, a psychologist and ThriveMap’s chief science officer, said that looking for someone who is a good cultural fit had become increasingly important as candidates become pickier about the brands they want to work for.

She said: “The role of HR is changing. The rise of social media alongside peer-to-peer review sites like Glassdoor, mean that employers no longer have complete control over their brand and need to find alternative ways to present themselves as an attractive prospect to new employees.

“Those employees in turn want to find working environments that fit not just their skills but also how they like to work.

“Employers that show that they are both conscious of their culture and taking active steps to measure and improve it, will be the winners in the war for talent now and in the future.”

Top 10 HR questions June 2018: Sporting events and background checks

How should employers respond to workers wanting to view World Cup matches in work time?

Christoph Soeder/DPA/PA Images

What kind of background checks can employers carry out before taking on a new employee, and has this been affected by the GDPR? Popular FAQs on XpertHR last month also cover criminal records checks and time spent viewing sporting events.

Questions about calculating redundancy pay and consulting on an individual basis during the redundancy process also feature in the top ten for June. As do topical questions about workplace heat and following World cup matches during work time.

The top 10 HR questions in June 2018:

1. Can employers carry out criminal records checks under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)?

2. What should the employer and employee discuss at an individual redundancy consultation meeting?

3. Can an employer ask a prospective employee to fill in a medical questionnaire?

4. How should employers deal with employees who spend work time following sporting events on the internet?

5. Is there a maximum workplace temperature beyond which employees cannot be expected to work?

6. Should regular overtime be taken into account when calculating weekly earnings for redundancy pay purposes?

7. Can an employer reject an employee’s choice of companion for a disciplinary or grievance hearing?

8. What is an “automatic unfair dismissal”?

9. What rights of access do employees have to job references?

10.When does a casual worker become an employee?

NHS hospitals asked to reassure EU staff ahead of Brexit

NHS chief executive Simon Stevens said hospitals should “reach out” to EU staff Mark Thomas/REX/Shutterstock

NHS hospitals in England have been asked to reach out to staff from other EU countries about continuing to work for the service after Brexit.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said all NHS trusts had been written to, urging them to reassure the service’s 60,000 employees from the EU who might be worried about what their options are.

He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “Every hospital has now been written to asking them to reach out to their staff from the rest of the EU, providing that the home secretary has set a clear process by which people can apply to stay in this country, which we hope they will do.”

According to the Nursing Times, EU nationals make up 5.6% of NHS England’s workforce. But data from the Nursing and Midwifery Council last autumn showed a 67% increase in the number of nurses and midwives from other EU countries leaving the register and an 89% reduction in EU nationals joining it.

However, the exemption of doctors and nurses from the restrictions to the number of Tier 2 visas for non-EU skilled workers is expected to help ease the service’s staffing crisis.

Stevens also indicated that there would be a 25% uplift in the number of “home grown” British doctors as five new medical schools are expected to open in the next few years. He said the same needed to be done for nursing and other disciplines. The NHS celebrates its 70th anniversary this week.

Meanwhile, the British Chambers of Commerce has published 24 “real-world” questions that urgently need answering ahead of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

The list includes: ‘Will I be able to hire EU nationals in future – and under what conditions?’, ‘Will business travel between the UK and the EU involve further administration, costs or visas?’ and ‘Will my business be able to move skilled staff members between the UK and the EU in future?’.

Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “Over the past two years, businesses have been patient. We have supported the government’s drive to seek the best possible deal for the UK economy.

“Now, with the time running out ahead of the UK’s exit from the EU, business patience is reaching breaking point.

“Businesses have every right to speak out when it is abundantly clear that the practical questions affecting the competitiveness of their firms and the livelihoods of millions of people remain unanswered.

“With less than nine months to go until Brexit day, we are little closer to the answers businesses need than we were the day after the referendum.”

Hampton-Alexander: Boards need to speed up to meet gender target

Stobart Group is one of 10 FTSE 350 companies with an all-male board

David Bagnall/REX/Shutterstock

A quarter of FTSE 350 board positions are now held by women, according to the latest figures compiled as part of the Hampton-Alexander review of executive diversity.

The figures, released today, show that 29 of the FTSE 100 companies now have a woman on their board, up from 12.5% in 2011.

This is the halfway point of the government-backed review, launched in 2016 with the target of having 33% of all FTSE 350 board and senior leadership positions held by women by 2020.

However, in order for this target to be achieved, around 40% of all appointments at this level need to go to women over the next two years, the government said.

Despite solid progress, there are still a number of companies lagging behind on diversity, it added.

There are still 10 all-male boards in the FTSE 350, including Sports Direct International, Stobart Group and On the Beach Group. Several companies have gone above and beyond the 33% target, however, including Diageo and Next.

Claire McCartney, diversity and inclusion adviser at the CIPD, said that the figures were still “worryingly low”.

“There is a lot more work to be done between now and 2020 if those organisations are going to meet the targets that have been set,” she said.

“While having women at board level in organisations can only be a positive and we welcome the focus that the Hampton-Alexander review has placed on promoting gender diversity at board level, we need to also be placing much more focus on women in active, observable leadership positions.

“Seeing is believing and this visibility will likely have much more of an impact on the rest of the workforce than in organisations that just have women in non-executive director positions.”

McCartney added that employers could do more to support career progress for women already in their organisation.

“HR has a significant role to play in helping to build inclusive cultures from the bottom up, and create talent pipelines that take away the barriers to the top,” she said. “The government also has a greater role to play in sharing the success stories of the organisations that are getting it right.”

Sir Philip Hampton, chair of the review, echoed these concerns. He said: “It is good to see progress of women on boards continuing with the FTSE 100 likely to hit the 33% target in 2020.

“However, nearly half of all available board appointments in the run up to 2020 now need to go to women if the FTSE 350 are to meet the target.

“Far too many companies still have no women – or only one woman – on their board.” recently published a survey indicating that 46% of the UK workforce were pushing for shared parental leave, yet half didn’t know their company even offered it. VP of marketing in Europe, Sinead Bunting, argues that companies need to “up their game” in supporting women if they are to meet the 2020 target.

She said: “We’ve taken a step in the right direction today, but we need only look at the embarrassing excuses for not appointing women to boards released last month to see how much more needs to be done to achieve anything like gender parity in the workplace.

“This is no longer limited to ensuring equal pay but implementing better workplace policies, including encouraging shared parental leave, ensuring fairer recruitment strategies and introducing return to work programmes.

“In 2018, gender shouldn’t be a contributing factor in whether a person can successfully lead a business. And it is businesses that need to be leading by example.”

The government has also now opened an online portal where FTSE 350 companies can submit their 2018 leadership data.

Hirelink is a professional skill development and recruiting Company that specializes in Accounting and Finance Sector.


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