The UK recruitment and staffing market is currently worth £24.7 billion (2010/11). The industry employs over 90,000 individuals and is growing rapidly, with a 13% increase in employee numbers in 2010/11. Each year, the recruitment industry is responsible for placing an estimated 1.1-1.5 m individuals in jobs, emphasising its importance to the success of the overall economy.
The British economy is shifting towards a ‘knowledge economy’ within which business success depends largely on factors such as staff skills and how well staff fit particular roles. Increasingly, a business competes not just in terms of the quality of its products and the delivery of its services but also in the ability of its employees. The recent growth of the recruitment sector can be attributed to a few key developments – the greater focus on talent, the increasingly varied methods of recruitment, and the economic drive for efficiency.
Against this background, recruitment apprenticeships have been designed to equip recruitment professionals with a skill set that will enable them to adapt and grow within the recruitment sector, either within recruitment agencies or within in-house recruitment teams. It is predicted that recruitment practices will continue to change, emphasising the need for relevant and flexible recruitment apprenticeships.
Instructus Skills and the Recruitment Employment Confederation (REC) conducted a survey of employers in 2012 the results of which suggested that there was a high demand for a higher apprenticeship. The survey also highlighted a number of issues within the sector, as follows:
- High staff turnover
- Poor reputation as an industry
- Lack of existing accredited qualifications, recognised development opportunities and progression routes
- Difficulty in recruiting effective staff
- Difficulty in releasing staff for long periods of training
- High use of graduates within the profession, despite the fact that recruitment job roles do not require graduate specific skills, either in level or in subject area.
The Higher Apprenticeship will contribute towards resolving these issues in a number of ways.
- It will provide a structured development programme for new and existing recruitment staff.
- Investment in skills and qualifications is known to improve staff retention and staff loyalty, consequently lowering the rate of staff turnover. National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) data shows that organisations offering apprenticeships have reduced turnover rates, when compared to those not offering apprenticeships.
- The development of regulated qualifications and apprenticeships will increase the overall number of existing accredited qualifications, thus providing enhanced validated professional development opportunities, which may in turn improve the reputation of the recruitment sector.
- Participation in apprenticeships will ensure that recruitment staff develop effective competence and skill sets, enabling them to efficiently fulfil their job role. As much of the learning within an apprenticeship is completed whilst working, employers will not need to release staff for prolonged periods, which again will help with the uptake of the apprenticeship.
- The on-the-job focus on learning suits the industry and will provide a more fit-for-purpose apprenticeship framework than those currently used within the recruitment sector. Although current apprenticeship frameworks (e.g. Business and Administration, Sales and Customer Service) are beneficial for those working within the recruitment sector, they are not specifically tailored towards recruitment and therefore do not cover the sector-specific needs of the sector.
- Recruitment apprentices will have subject specific qualifications and high level skills, and an increase in the number of recruitment apprentices will potentially minimise the existing reliance on graduates. The development of a recognised progression and entry route into and through the industry as an alternative to the current graduate entry route will seek to further professionalise the industry.
- The availability of a recruitment higher apprenticeship will formally recognise the value of recruitment, laying firm foundations for the next generation of competent recruitment professionals.
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