7 top tips to help small businesses attract the next generation of talent

Blogs 14 Sep 2022

You don’t have to be a big brand to attract the future apprentices your organisation needs. UCAS shares their insights on connecting more effectively with students.

Small businesses can offer early career opportunities that are every bit as valuable and high quality as those of larger organisations. But while smaller businesses may not enjoy the same levels of brand exposure, there are plenty of tactics you can use to make your employer offer visible and connect with the right candidates.  

UCAS shares their top tips to capture students’ interest and get your apprenticeship programmes noticed. 

Reach students from a young age 

Students need access to information on career opportunities early on in their secondary education so that they have the time to consider and research their options. Students typically start to consider their career options from year 9 onwards and would prefer to hear about apprenticeship opportunities in Years 9-10.  

But how can your small business most effectively reach this audience? Students find sessions with careers advisers and website content to be the most useful resources when exploring apprenticeship opportunities so consider working directly with schools and careers advisers in your local area, as well as partnering with organisations which can connect you directly with students. 

Use peer-to-peer content 

Students attach great importance to the experiences of their peers and want to hear from current apprentices to help inform their next steps. Think about how you can make use of your current apprentices to help showcase your programme and inspire potential candidates: would they be willing to participate in activities such as 1:1 sessions and instant messaging? How can they contribute their voices to your website, social media and video content? 

Show what it’s really like to work with you 

It’s important to give students a taste of what it’s actually like being at your business and provide them with an insight into what the next few years with you may entail. There’s an appetite for content specifically showing what a day in the life of an apprentice looks like to help prepare students. This type of content can really build a picture of your business alongside a range of other activities including case studies, open days, as well as offering opportunities for work experience and shadowing. 

Describe the long-term career prospects with your business 

Students value job security and want to feel that they have long-term career prospects with an employer who invests in their training and development. Make sure that you portray the opportunity to develop a lasting career within your business beyond an apprenticeship, and signpost examples of employees who have developed and progressed there in your communications. 

Avoid jargon 

Make sure you’re using clear language that students can easily connect with in all your marketing and communications. Candidates can often feel overwhelmed and anxious as they navigate the process of researching and applying for apprenticeships and they require clear information to guide them. Steer clear of terminology that students may not be familiar with and ensure that your job descriptions and company information reference things they will relate to. 

Don’t forget about influencers 

It’s crucial to also reach parents and guardians who have an influence on students’ decision-making processes. There are some misconceptions with regards to apprenticeships, and there is work to be done to ensure that those with an advisory role are correctly informed. Parents find talks from employers the most valuable tool in supporting their understanding of the available options and also want access to regularly updated news and opportunities online to ensure they have the required knowledge to support students in their decisions. 

Promote opportunities in places your audience already does research 

One of the biggest frustrations students face, is having to use multiple resources to find apprenticeship information and apply for roles. During their research process, the feeling of being ‘overwhelmed’ is all too common. So while it’s vital to make sure the content on your own channels is as good as it can be, you can’t expect students to find it on their own. That’s true of big brands as well as smaller employers – which is why our Career Finder platform is cited by students as a more likely source of apprenticeships and jobs information for them than individual employer websites.  

The student insights above are based on independent research conducted by CX Partners on behalf of UCAS in July and August 2021, as well as UCAS audience surveys 2021-22.  


This content was provided by UCAS  

UCAS guides an entire generation across the UK in their next steps, presenting students with apprenticeship opportunities side by side with undergraduate options. UCAS works with employers to get their apprenticeships seen and recognised, connecting them more effectively and efficiently with the right candidates.  

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