Graduates, Award Winning Apprenticeship Schemes and Social Mobility

I recently watched a webinar involving Capp, Sonru and Nestle about the benefits of strengths based video interviewing for graduates. You can read a summary on Capp’s blog here.

Many things stood out for me about the benefits of both video and strengths based assessment – and there was post hiring process research to show that the methodology was popular with candidates too – but two main outcomes that struck home were:

  • Improvement in social mobility
  • Increase in female recruits for technical disciplines from 22% to 67%

And part of the reasons for these outcomes were:

  • Unlike traditional competency approaches, this methodology doesn’t rely on past experience
  • As assessors don’t see an application form they have no pre-conceived ideas on the candidate they are assessing

I don’t think anyone will deny that there is much under utilised potential amongst our young emerging workforce and the challenge is to bring opportunity to people from all backgrounds and skill sets. That there is potential for unconscious bias when it comes selection, even at this level, maybe a taboo subject but with recent research indicating that hiring on gut instinct, or intuition, is on the rise, it is something that we need to be aware of. Any process which reduces the chance of interviewers and assessors entering the selection process with pre-conceived ideas must be good.

But this isn’t all just about graduates. The increasing importance of apprenticeships, and the need to harness the potential of school leavers, is being recognised across industry with the concept of apprentices being the new graduates being discussed at the recent Association of Graduate Recruiters conference.

At this point I’ll raise my hand and say that there’s a reason that I’ve referenced the work of Capp – I’ve been spending some time with them recently, finding out more about what they do and helping on social marketing outreach. I’ve always been interested in the benefits of strengths based interviewing versus more traditional competency methods and how this could lead to more diverse, harmonious and creative workplaces.

Last night, together with client Nestle, they won the Recruiter Awards for Excellence 2014 in the category of ‘Best Apprentice/.School Leaver Strategy‘. It was given for work on Nestle’s ‘Fast Start’ programme, a 3 year ‘learn while you earn’ scheme providing school leavers the chance to work in a salaried role while studying for a degree in Professional Business Practice. Capp had worked with Nestle defining indicators of success and designed an assessment strategy to identify potential without relying on limited previous work experience.

A main aim of the scheme was to increase social mobility – to reach out to candidates from a more diverse social background and ensure they were not disadvantaged from progressing – and it turned out that 78% of candidates successfully reaching the assessment centre were from a state school, with 60% of candidates having neither parent completing a university degree.

As part of an ongoing project to better understand social mobility they have recently launched a survey – ‘Understanding Social Mobility’ – which explores social mobility from the level of the individual, rather than group or social class. Hopefully this will help shape an approach that empowers the individual.

You can complete the survey here – I’d really appreciate it if readers of my blog could contribute to the research too, both in a personal capacity and by sharing with people they know.

I’m sure that social mobility will dominate the conversations around the world of work over many years. The need to recognise talent, potential and capability irrespective of background and previous experience will become key to future business success.


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