Diversity in Hiring: How Apprenticeships are Disrupting the Status Quo

With millennials and Gen Z our most diverse generations yet, and with 67% of job seekers considering workforce diversity in their employment opportunities, diversity in hiring is a business imperative – here’s how apprenticeships help. 

Despite businesses striving to improve their workforce diversity, they continue to struggle with developing a varied talent pool. 45% of employers believe their recruitment tools are ineffective at sourcing diverse candidates, could apprenticeships be the answer?

Apprenticeships play a multifaceted role in building a diverse business. Developed to be a stepping stone into a new job, the supportive nature of an apprenticeship makes apprentice vacancies appealing to a greater group of people. 

Utilise your Apprenticeship Levy funds to hire in school-leavers, career changers and even those returning to work and start developing a more diverse workforce. 

Attract candidates from a variety of educational backgrounds

Excluding candidates based on their educational background will be a roadblock in improving your workforce diversity. Even graduates don’t believe in graduate schemes; they align them to  ‘outdated’ businesses and see them as limiting accessibility for ethnic minorities and those with disabilities. Some employers are opening their ‘graduate’ schemes to those without degrees, or like Ernest & Young, scrapping university degrees from their entry requirements.  

Young people have more post-18 choices than ever before. Many decide to go straight into work through an apprenticeship, not because it’s a ‘second choice’ to university, but because it’s the better option. In fact, Rachel chose JP Morgan’s Technology Degree apprenticeship over Oxford University and Courtney turned down five university offers for an apprenticeship at a conveyancing firm.

Hire career changers and support return-to-work employees

Returning to work can be daunting, especially for those away for a significant period of time, and the prospect of diving straight into a full-time role can be overwhelming. 

An apprenticeship could be the transition back into employment. Apprentices gradually grow into the role over the course of a few months and benefit from extra support. Apprenticeships can also reawaken an interest in learning and boost motivation, improving the chances of them successfully returning to work. 

Apprenticeships are also beneficial for those wanting to change careers. The new Apprenticeship Standards are designed to train people into specific jobs. In order to complete the apprenticeship, learners must tick off all the skills, behaviours and knowledge elements required to perform that role – guaranteeing their competency and building their confidence. 

Open your vacancies to a wider talent pool

Most employers don’t care about qualifications; it’s enthusiasm, passion and natural skill that tends to be the deciding factor. Despite this, many job descriptions still specify at least one qualification as a requirement. This results in your talent pool narrowing; even if its stated as a ‘desirable’, candidates will count themselves out if they don’t meet the qualification requirement. 

The core belief of an apprenticeship is the value of skillset over qualifications, which is why entry-level apprenticeships only require a level 2 English and maths. By hiring new talent through apprenticeships, it maintains open role requirements and ensures candidates are primarily judged on potential and skills. 

Tips for diverse hiring through apprenticeships

Employers that rely on traditional graduate intakes must adapt their methods when recruiting apprentices:

  • Having the right expectations: Look for potential and not experience. Adapt your recruitment method so it’s suitable for inexperienced interviewees. 
  • Avoid specifying qualifications: This widens your talent pool and helps you attract diverse candidates.
  • Be dedicated: Apprenticeships require commitment from both the apprentice and line manager, so it’s key they’re both bought into the idea. 

Disrupt your hiring status quo today

Are you finding your vacancies attracting the same type of candidates? So were a major professional services firm. They received applications from a disproportionate amount of candidates from specific universities and schools, so they hired 200 apprentices through a gaming app.

Apprenticeships are your opportunity to hire in entry-level talent that will rise through the ranks and succeed with your business. They also allow you to give your existing employees the chance to up-skill or re-skill in a new industry – thus having a knock-on effect on retention and employee satisfaction.


For over 20 years, AVADO have been providing professional training and qualifications that transform businesses. In 2018, Ofsted ‘Outstanding’ apprenticeship provider, Arch Apprentices, combined forces with AVADO to become one of the most exciting education providers in the UK.

Since the Apprenticeship Levy was first announced in 2015, we’ve been consulting with businesses across the country on how to make the most out of their levy funds. From finance and HR to marketing and IT, we provide digital-first apprenticeships that will engage your workforce. 

Stephanie Khan

Posted December 4, 2019