Recruiting Apprentices: 8 Questions for Your Plan

A recent report asked apprenticeship programs what their top challenges are in the next two years—the number one answer? Replacing the number of retired tradespeople.

If recruitment is top of mind for your plan, and you’re looking for tips to help in recruiting apprentices—or for almost any other aspect of apprenticeship program management—the Foundation’s new Apprenticeship Program Answer Guide can help. The online, member exclusive resource is designed to be a quick Q&A-style reference for a wide variety of apprenticeship program stakeholders, including training directors, coordinators, trustees, administrators, instructors, committee members and staff.

Recruiting Apprentices: 8 Questions for Your Plan

Here are eight helpful Q&A’s—straight from the Apprenticeship Program Answer Guide—to help your plan find and recruit great apprentices.

How can an apprenticeship program be promoted to reach qualified candidates?

Organizations first must understand where their target audience spends time online. The Pew Internet & Technology Research Project is a great resource that tracks the latest online trends and habits for various audience groups.

For the apprenticeship program to have the opportunity to be noticed, know where the target audience is, how they interact with media and platforms on a day-to-day basis, and which platforms they think of when it comes to the category or brand. Furthermore, people must see something they like and then choose to spend time with it for the brand to have an impact.

To create genuinely engaging content that resonates with people—either through emotion, information or entertainment—it is important to understand people’s needs, aspirations, beliefs and desires.

Where should an apprenticeship start with creating a marketing plan?

Start by understanding the current situation and evaluating existing communication tactics. Consider conducting a SWOT analysis (listing organizational strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) to uncover insights. Chart out the target audience groups and list their demographics, habits, behaviors and interests before a marketing plan is developed.

When planning social media communications, it is helpful to create a content calendar that first defines the type of content to post and then considers the audience, social media platform and purpose.

How can a website be used as a recruitment or advertising tool?

If an apprenticeship website fails to bring candidates to the door, the JATC is missing out on one of the most important recruiting tools to appeal to prospective, high-potential employees.

Instead of the typical, dryly written job listings about available positions, the website should include information that sets the organization apart from others. Job listings must include the vision and benefits of the JATC so that a potential candidate thinks “This program is for me!”

Once the JATC has the candidate’s attention, provide a way for candidates to easily submit resumés for consideration for future positions. This may include having a general inquiry form or a full online apprenticeship application.

How can social media marketing be used as a recruitment tool?

Social media gives companies and candidates the tools they need to creatively share. Organizations often utilize Twitter to educate, Facebook to share culture and LinkedIn to highlight company achievements. Snapchat geofilters can be used during career fairs or large conferences.

Participate in the right conversations. The key to recruiting on social media is to cut through the noise and find the right people. Maintain a consistent social media presence by creating a public Facebook page for the JATC program. Using hashtags is a great way to get job openings in front of candidates you want to apply. For example, #ApprenticeshipsWork or #SheetMetalJobs can help reach the right candidates on Twitter.

Trustees and Administrators Institutes

How can a marketing plan get people to slow down and pay attention to a message?

First, understand the target audience’s needs, values and aspirations to ensure that content that is meaningful and resonant. Some other tips:

  • Keep the message simple
  • Tell a real story or use testimonials
  • Be authentic
  • Use real photos and visuals as often as you can – most people are visual learners.

What do EEO regulations prohibit?

EEO regulations prohibit discrimination with respect to all facets of the program, including recruitment, selection, placement, rates of pay, hours of work and job assignments on the basis of: 

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • National origin
  • Sex
  • Disability
  • Age (40 or older)
  • Sexual orientation
  • Genetic information.

What do EEO regulations require?

Antiharassment policies and training: EEO regulations require that sponsors of apprenticeship programs develop and implement antiharassment policies to prevent harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, age (40 or older), sexual orientation or genetic information. Regulations also require that all individuals connected with the administration or operation of the sponsor’s apprenticeship program receive antiharassment training, including journeymen who regularly work with apprentices. The training must involve active participation and must include active communication from training participants. In addition, sponsors must make a good faith effort to ensure that apprentices are not harassed or discriminated against on the jobsite while under a contractor’s supervision.

Recruitment and outreach: Under EEO regulations, sponsors of apprenticeship programs must develop a list of recruitment sources that will generate referrals reflecting the demographics of the program’s relevant recruitment area. Sponsors are expected to seek out good faith alternatives if and when former recruitment sources do not fulfill the intent of the regulations.

Affirmative action program: The regulations require that sponsors, unless otherwise exempt, take affirmative steps to create an environment of equal opportunity, free of discrimination. Affirmative action programs allow sponsors to monitor their employment practices and identify areas in need of improvement.

What types of questions should the committee ask applicants during interviews?

The committee should ask questions aimed at determining the fitness of the applicant to enter the program. The questions should focus on the applicant’s qualifications. In addition, questions should be standardized in order to reduce the possibility of personal biases impacting the selection process or the possibility of violations of Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) regulations. This also will help to ensure that the committee receives the same information to assist in the evaluation of each applicant.

Check Out the New Apprenticeship Program Answer Guide

The new Apprenticeship Program Answer Guide addresses apprenticeship program topics from top to bottom, with subjects ranging from recruiting to audits to trends and more. The resource is an exclusive member benefit for International Foundation members and addresses more than 200 FAQs from apprenticeship programs.

Because the guide is entirely online, it offers dynamic content that is always current. We encourage you to offer your input on additional questions that would be of interest, and we look forward to making this the go-to answer source for all of your apprenticeship program questions. In addition, a comparable guide is being planned for our Canadian membership. A special thanks to our project leaders: Rachel Parisi, Dr. John Gaal and Larry Bebee, as well as the rest of the International Foundation subject matter experts for their contributions!

Apprenticeship Program Answer Guide

Justin Held, CEBS
Senior Research Analyst at the International Foundation

Justin Held, CEBS

Senior Research Analyst at the International Foundation Favorite Foundation service: Research Surveys Benefits related topics that interests him most: Health care economics, the Affordable Care Act, apprenticeship training Favorite Foundation Conference Event: Lowell Catlett’s economic updates Personal Insight: Justin loves everything baseball, visiting and checking off ballparks as he travels. He can shake any bad mood caused by a Brewers’ loss by going for a good long run.

Recommended Posts

Educating DC Plan Participants for the Long Hike to Retirement

Kathy Bergstrom, CEBS

Many years ago, I visited Grand Canyon National Park with my mom and aunt. It was unseasonably hot, but I wanted to walk down into the canyon on the Bright Angel Trail. My companions were not up for the hike, so I […]

Building and Designing for DEI: Creating Employee Benefits That Work for All

Guest Contributor

Benefits Magazine Extras articles provide you with bonus content on a mix of benefits topics as well as deep dives and analyses on the latest benefit trends and compliance issues. Foundation members can visit to view the full bimonthly print edition of the magazine.  Global […]