The challenge of apprentice recruitment

Apprentice recruitment has long become part of the fight for resources. Many operators are racking their brains to find an answer to the question: What is the key to successful apprentice recruitment? The days when companies could pick and choose are over.

Created by Alois Innerhofer

Ropeway companies need to rethink their apprentice recruitment strategies. Demographic change and the increasing emphasis on higher education mean that there are fewer and fewer applicants for the apprentice training system. And there is no reason to expect that these developments will let up in the near future. On the contrary, they are likely to intensify.

Ropeway operators should take a number of basic points into account to be sure of attracting apprentices under these changed conditions:

  • Provide information about the advantages of dual vocational training in order to enhance the image of this system of combined training and schooling. Take measures to convince young people of the benefits of in-company training.
  • Lay the foundations for success in the company yourself: Don’t wait for other players to solve your problems. But rather, examine your options and develop recruitment strategies that will make you competitive in the fight for talented apprentices.
  • Treat apprentice recruitment as a continuous activity: Take recruitment seriously as a year-round task. Plan your apprenticeship vacancies as early as possible. Start the acquisition process with plenty of lead time, and take the necessary steps in a sensible time frame.
  • Eliminate all application obstacles: Reach out to potential apprentices in every way possible. Offer simple application processes, and provide guidance at all stages. Always be available for follow-up questions.
  • Build a convincing image as an apprenticing company: Offer attractive conditions and a high standard of training – and make sure people know. Only if you are convincing as an apprenticing company will you succeed in attracting suitable applicants. And it is not your advertising slogans they find convincing but your deeds!
  • Introduce yourself to the applicant – and not the other way round: Consider your applicants as customers whom you want to sell yourself to as best you can. Don’t just ask, “Why should we choose you?” Adopt the applicant’s perspective, too, and answer the question, “Why should I come to you for my training?”
  • Think like an apprentice: Don’t just focus on your company’s interests; take into account those of your potential apprentices, too. Put young people’s training and career needs and expectations at the heart of your recruitment strategy.
  • Be convincing on both the factual and the emotional level: Young people’s decisions for or against an apprenticeship are often based on gut instinct. So design the recruitment process in such a way that applicants see it as a positive experience throughout. Respect, friendliness, convincing answers to all questions, and a demonstrably good working atmosphere are the standard in this context.
  • Realistic requirements: In view of the current shortage of apprentices, make sure that your expectations are not too high. Check which capabilities are really indispensable. Be willing to compromise without being completely uncritical.
  • Explore new avenues: Optimize your approaches to your target groups. Make information a top priority and use as many channels of communication as possible. Also, explore new avenues and make extensive use of the rich pool of direct and indirect options for approaching potential trainees.
  • Involve parents and teachers: Involve secondary target groups or multipliers when recruiting apprentices. Parents and teachers in particular have a great influence on young people’s career choices. So promote your training programs with these target groups in mind, too, and find ways to convince them of the benefits of an apprenticeship in your company.
  • Enlist the support of the apprentices you are currently training: They are closer to the young people looking for an apprenticeship than anyone else. So let them play an active part in recruitment and other measures related to attracting apprentices.
  • Help apprentices identify with your ropeway operations as quickly as possible: Design the recruitment process in such a way that promising applicants are actively integrated into the company before the start of training or even from the day the contract is signed. Create a bond between future apprentices and the company not only contractually but also emotionally.
  • Consider prospective trainees as your skilled workers of the future: Keep the future in mind with a recruitment strategy based on long-term goals. Consider candidates as tomorrow’s skilled workers and the recruitment process as the first investment in valuable employees for the future.
Photo: A. Innerhofer
Providing information for ropeway apprentices at an apprenticeships and jobs fair
Photo: A. Innerhofer

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