By Nikki Craig, Senior Vice President HR DHL UK and Ireland

With recent figures from the ONS revealing that unemployment has fallen to 5.5 per cent, getting people into work continues to be a key focus and businesses have a vital role to play in this. Apprenticeship programmes are often a popular way of recruiting talent, however providing a good scheme can be challenging, no matter how big or small the company is.

There are many ways to run an apprenticeship programme and achieving a high volume of applicants can often be quite easy. In the selection process it is important for applicants to have an understanding of how they can further their career. It is essential the longer-term prospects for your prospective apprentices are clear. One example of this is the Government's Movement to Work scheme, which provides young people a six-week placement in the workplace with the opportunity to undertake vocational training.

The employers’ primary objective is to support participants to either gain full time employment or further their education. Providing a clear career path minimises the chance of candidates dropping out and encourages individuals to remain focused on their end goal. It often gives them the determination to achieve a permanent role or contract at the end of the year and can encourage them to progress their career within the company.

The nurturing and development of your apprentices is extremely important, but ultimately depends on the involvement and competence of your staff. It is crucial to provide training to ensure that staff are fully aware of their own responsibilities when it comes to coaching and developing apprentices. Gaining investment from the business first will allow a consistent approach and help employees to understand their role and position as part of the scheme.

Finally, do not look for apprentices in just one area of your business. Considering the entirety of your business will allow you to identify areas in which fresh talent is required and you will be able to hone the skills of new starters to fit your business needs. This will allow you to establish a talent pipeline of skilled employees to fill roles within your organisation and safeguard against future skills shortages.

Delivering an apprenticeship scheme can add value to your business and help sustain future growth. It is crucial that time and investment are made available to ensure that they run to meet both the objectives of candidates, staff and management.