Over 100 Year 12 students took part in a unique mock recruitment exercise at the University of Hertfordshire on Monday 8 July, to learn about what Hertfordshire employers look for from potential apprentices. This was the first event of its kind, jointly organised by Amazing Apprenticeships and Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), as part of its Careers & Enterprise Company programme.

Six local employers from a range of industry sectors hosted interactive workshops to introduce their business, showcase apprenticeship opportunities and demonstrate their selection process, while providing students with the chance to gain meaningful encounters with employers and employees.

The event brought together 10 local schools, allowing for mixed groups to provide a realistic experience of participating in an assessment centre. Students also had a chance to speak to the employers over a networking lunch.

The employers that took part include engineering company Parker Hannifin, aerospace giant Airbus, IT provider Computacenter, Morrison Utility Services (part of M Group Services), Hertfordshire Constabulary and The Careers and Enterprise Company’s own HR Team.

Anna Morrison CBE, Director at Amazing Apprenticeships, who led the event said: “This has been a massive success for students, their teachers and the brilliant employers that gave up their time to run the activities. Students have worked in groups with other students that they have never met before. They have participated in activities where they didn’t know what to expect and they have also networked in a professional environment over lunch. These are such valuable experiences and it will really help to prepare them for what they may face as part of an apprenticeship assessment day in the future.”

Students took part in two interactive workshops lasting 45 minutes each, giving them a taste of the types of group activities they may encounter in an apprenticeship recruitment process. It also allowed them to discuss what they believe are the essential skills and qualities employers look for.

Gareth Dace, Senior Enterprise Coordinator at Hertfordshire LEP, said: “This event was the culmination of a 10-month project supporting targeted schools, which aimed to raise the profile and level of information provided about apprenticeships. Whilst it was therefore vital to expose students to some revered employers offering apprenticeship routes into employment, it also served as a platform to introduce those young people to the concept of an assessment centre style recruitment process. We are very grateful to the six employers who attended and hosted workshops. This event and project was only possible due to the excellent partnership work with Anna Morrison and Amazing Apprenticeships.”

Kevin Ronan, HR Director at The Careers and Enterprise Company, said: “This was a very well organised and upbeat event. The young people engaged well and had some great ideas about the skills and behaviours that employers are looking for.”

Syed Shah, HR Director, Hertfordshire Constabulary, said: “I think it’s a great opportunity for employers to engage with students and make meaningful connections with schools and teachers.”

Joanna Moles, teacher at John Henry Newman School in Stevenage, said: “This was a fantastic day for the students to find out more about assessment centres. It really helped to inspire and inform students of the excellent opportunities in apprenticeships.”

This event aligns with Hertfordshire LEP’s Apprenticeship Strategy to 2020 by providing a chance for local businesses to engage directly with local students and showcase the benefits of apprenticeships. It has also given students a valuable opportunity to participate in a mock assessment centre and learn about the kind of skills and experience required for apprenticeships.

Tina Hannaway, Corporate IT, Sales and Marketing at Parker Hannifin, said: “I believe it’s important to prepare the students by having mock assessment days like these. It gives them experience of the recruitment process and, as an employer, it builds relationships and our employee pipeline.”

Learn more about Hertfordshire LEP’s Careers & Enterprise Company Programme.