Even before we faced the challenging talent landscape, employers were beginning to recognize the full weight of a modern entry-level hiring strategy.
Data shows that employers plan to hire nearly 15% more recent graduates(opens new window) from the Class of 2023 than they did from the Class of 2022. But what many organizations still aren’t seeing is that a robust early talent strategy isn’t just about recent grads.
While a college degree is often the first thing employers look for in an entry-level role, businesses and young professionals agree that it’s skills — not degrees — that deliver the greatest value to the workplace.
Here are five practical ways employers can level up their early career talent strategies through the transformative power of professional apprenticeships.
1. Fill open positions faster
Companies have become more creative with their recruitment strategies, including the way they think about their early career programs. But unlike an internship or short-term training program, professional apprenticeships can deliver skills development based on real day-to-day workflows in high-demand areas like software engineering and data analytics.
Here are a few ways a skills-first talent strategy can help you fill in-demand roles faster:
- Increase the number of qualified candidates - skills-first hiring can increase speed of hiring by up to 19X(opens new window) by making jobs formerly reserved for those with a degree accessible to a wider pool of talent.
- Connect with digital natives who have an adaptive mindset and inherent tech knowledge to help fill tech roles faster.
- Reduce ramp times by hiring individuals who are already trained and equipped with the skills needed to succeed in a role.
Large multinationals like Unilever and others(opens new window) are beginning to see early careers as “an ecosystem of talent” — rather than a siloed cohort dedicated to generalized or low-impact tasks.
With the right program in place, professional apprenticeships can help you close critical skills gaps by training ambitious early talent to meet your hiring needs.
2. Build leaders and increase ROI
From inflated compensation packages to expensive agencies and contractors, securing tech talent can be costly. Apprenticeships offer a sustainable and ROI-friendly alternative to relying on expensive third-parties by helping you build internal experts.
And now is the time. In less than 10 years, up to 75 million baby boomers(opens new window) will retire, leaving a huge gap at the leadership level. Without a plan to actively help talent advance into those roles, you risk getting left behind.
Professional apprenticeships help you develop future leaders by enabling you to:
- Bring in-demand talent in-house through a build vs. buy approach in key tech, digital, and data roles.
- Appeal to the 67% of Gen Z workers(opens new window) who prioritize skills development opportunities when evaluating an open position.
- Nurture a culture of learning supported by regular upskilling and reskilling opportunities to help employees advance in their careers while preserving the bottom line as technology continues to evolve.
3. Establish a culture of engagement from day one
Early career starters have entered the working world at a unique moment in HR history. In a world where business isn’t usual, it’s up to you to create an engaging early talent program to help meet them where they are.
Here are some of the ways professional apprenticeships help you build enthusiasm for learning from the start:
- Integrate training into real day-to-day workflows so new capabilities can be immediately applied and recognized.
- Create opportunities for ongoing career development conversations through personalized coaching and a clearly defined certified training curriculum.
- Nurture a sense of purpose by aligning early talent around a shared mission to transform the business and remain future-ready.
Professional apprenticeships offer the best of digital and in-person learning, including built-in coaching and mentorship, and access to a community of peers to network and collaborate. This can have an important impact on employee loyalty(opens new window), while driving your transformation initiatives forward.
4. Decrease time per task, increase agility
The number of software tools a single company uses has increased more than 10X(opens new window) in less than ten years, with the average organization currently using 110 applications. But does your workforce know how to make the most of those investments?
Professional apprenticeships help increase your agility by empowering leaders to:
- Train all new hires on your tech stack, building a culture of data from the entry level up.
- Increase productivity and innovation as junior employees share the load of gathering and interpreting data.
- Scale critical skills across all levels of the organization to develop experts in every key role and function.
In our report, Making Every Data Minute Count, we found that 8.5% of businesses' annual revenue is lost on average as a result of poor data literacy. Through direct training on real workflows, apprentices have been shown to deliver a 50% decrease in time spent unproductively, saving the equivalent of nearly six working weeks per year.
Investing in early talent with a malleable skill set and mindset can help you drive greater impact for years to come.
5. Increase representation in technical roles
Today nearly 70% of jobs(opens new window) require a bachelor’s degree, but only 37%(opens new window) of the workforce have one. Representation is especially low in the tech sector, with women and people of color highly underrepresented(opens new window) in technical roles. By offering debt-free and paid positions in in-demand areas, apprenticeships help you increase diversity from the start.
Here are some of the ways early talent apprenticeships can help drive diversity:
- Discover talent with a variety of skills and life experiences, including individuals with additional needs, those who have migrated from another country, switched careers, or who — for whatever reason — decided college simply wasn’t a fit.
- Provide access to programs that train in high-demand skills like software engineering, digital marketing, or data analytics, at no cost to the individual.
- Create mentorship programs partnering career starters with senior leaders who can support skills development and act as sponsors for promotions or merit increases.
- Stop caring about where someone went to school and focus on a candidate’s ability to perform instead.
“Recruiting truly diverse talent, and bringing in people with different perspectives and a range of experiences is vital to the success of our business, but also enables us to develop future leaders and build critical skills for Citi,” says Jacqui Lloyd, Senior Vice President and Apprenticeship Lead at Citi.
Hiring early talent based on potential, not the grades they got in school, isn’t just the right thing to do. It’s also great for the business.
Across all Multiverse programs, we have tracked over $669M in cost-saving or revenue-generating activities resulting from the work of our apprentices during their time in our programs. 69% of Multiverse apprentices gain new job responsibilities after they finish the program and over a third saw a salary increase between starting and finishing their apprenticeship.
Success at every level begins at the entry-level
Early talent development must be about more than graduate hiring and internships. Active skills training in specialized areas is the way forward for businesses looking to compete in a talent-tight, tech-driven climate.
With an open mind and a clear plan, you can level up your entire workforce starting at the entry-level.
At Multiverse, we partner with over 1,000 employers across the US and UK to identify the need for skills, design a program to systematically close skills gaps, and prepare your early talent cohort for lasting success in an increasingly digital climate