Easing of lockdown rules has driven a rise in the need for recruitment – apprenticeships are an ideal way to support this drive, says Jemma Hall, senior business development manager at Lifetime Training

As retail and hospitality fully reopen, businesses are rushing to recruit new talent. However, the impact of Covid-19 has dramatically shifted the market and has affected the number of candidates with the right skills. As a result, employers are facing labour shortages and skills gaps due to Brexit and Covid. In fact, more than two-thirds (66%) of hospitality firms are currently recruiting, while 62% of retailer leaders are struggling to find people with the right experience.

Apprenticeships have always been and remain an excellent tool to address labour shortages and skills gaps, especially in the retail and hospitality sectors. A nationally recognised and accredited standard is attractive to jobseekers; 75% of apprentices we recruit apply for the vacancy because the position is an apprenticeship. A person seeking out an apprenticeship is likely to be focused with a clear drive to develop their skills and knowledge.

Businesses can address skills gaps by investing in the development of their people with industry-relevant and employer-led apprenticeship training – apprentices begin to learn sector-relevant skills from the first day of employment.

Investing in people

Furthermore, candidates are eager to stay with a company willing to invest in their long-term development. By aligning apprenticeship training to a clear career pathway, an apprentice remains committed to developing their skills, which ultimately improves retention and supports succession planning. And while many businesses believe this will be time-consuming and at a cost to them, they’re misinformed. By utilising their apprenticeship levy and engaging with a registered training provider, the time and resource to deliver and manage an apprenticeship is reduced, whilst productivity is improved.

Social mobility

At the same time as developing their own workforce, businesses can support and improve social mobility – another important topic for employers following the impact of Covid-19. Many businesses recognise the real benefits in having a more diverse workforce, however The Social Mobility Commission reported that 56% of UK adults think Covid-19 has increased inequality in Britain.

To help drive social mobility and bridge skills gaps, Lifetime is sponsoring Retail Week’s No Limits campaign. The partnership aims to support 5,000 people from all socio-economic backgrounds to upskill with apprenticeship training. By driving an inclusive culture, organisations can increase the diversity of their workforce by using apprenticeships as a tool to improve their approach to social mobility.

“By hiring apprentices from all socio-economic backgrounds, employers can encourage social mobility and grow their own talent to address current skills gaps”

Providing apprenticeships at a career entry level can support attraction of a diverse range of candidates as the opportunity to ‘learn and earn’ is less of a barrier. Additionally, it supports businesses to raise their profile as an employer of choice, embed training and development from the start and develop future talent in line with industry recognised skills training.

By hiring apprentices from all socio-economic backgrounds and investing in their development with apprenticeship training, employers can encourage social mobility and truly grow their own talent to address current skills gaps.

At Lifetime we have experienced the incredible impact apprenticeships can have on a person, and how utilising the apprenticeship levy to support an inclusive workforce allows an organisation to grow their own talent and develop their people with industry-essential skills.

We continue to work with our employer partners and we are here to support their drive for skills development and social mobility through apprenticeships.

Jemma Hall is senior business development manager at Lifetime Training 

Jemma Hall

With more than 15 years’ experience in retail and hospitality and a passion for developing others, Jemma Hall has been working with apprenticeships across the sector for five years. She helps retailers develop their apprenticeship strategy and utilise their apprenticeship levy in a way that works for both the business and their people.