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How employers are developing apprentices and graduates

25 April 2019

How employers are developing apprentices and graduates

Image caption: Students in conversation ©Jisc and Matt Lincoln CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

Tristram Hooley, the ISE’s Chief Research Officer, shares a preview to his Developing the Future Workforce webinar that takes place on Friday 3 May.

How your firm develops its entry level staff is critical to their effectiveness. New recruits are full of raw potential, but it is how your organisation works with them to shape this potential that is where the value of entry level staff is really made (or lost). The following insight is from our latest Student Development Survey.


What skills are employers training students on?

Employers are offering training on a wide range of areas. The following table shows the top five areas that they are focusing on for graduates and apprentices. 

Skills employers training students on

This shows that the areas that employers are prioritising for training are similar for both graduates and apprentices. However a greater proportion of employers are training apprentices in all of these skills.  


How are employers training students?

The development of student hires is not just a question of deciding what skills you want them to develop it is also about thinking how you should organise this development. The table below sets out the five most popular approaches to student development that are used for graduates and apprentices. . 

In general the approaches used with graduates and apprentices were quite similar. However, there were some important differences. Employers were half as likely to use rotation between different business functions with apprentices and also slightly less likely to use pre-boarding activities and mentoring with this group. On the other hand, they were one and a half times more likely to provide apprentices with one-to-one tutoring, self-study time and opportunities for microlearning than they were with graduates.


What approaches are most impactful approaches?

In addition to asking employers what approaches they used to develop student hires, we also asked them which of these approaches they felt were most impactful. 

The five most impactful development approaches identified by employers:

  1. Classroom learning (identified as impactful by 72% of employers)
  2. Mentoring (56%)
  3. Rotations (50%)
  4. Experiential learning (48%)
  5. Peer-to-peer learning (40%)

Responses to this question suggest that some fairly well established approaches (classroom learning, mentoring, rotations, experiential learning and peer learning) continue to be viewed as the most effective. Only 24% of respondents reported that online learning was one of the most impactful approaches despite the fact that 90% of employers are using this approach for both graduates and apprentices.

Book your place on the ISE Developing the Future Workforce webinar, which takes place on Friday 3 May 2019.

Our Student Development Survey 2019 is available with all of the ISE’s other research reports on the ISE Publications page