Why selling the place and not just the salary is key to recruitment

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The Natural History Museum’s​ famous dinosaur, Dippy the Diplodocus, has been enthralling and exciting thousands of visitors at Number One Riverside, in Rochdale since February.

Dippy is on a national tour and is in Rochdale, his only North West stop, until June 28 and he provided the stunning backdrop for Rochdale Ambassadors latest business breakfast devoted to discussing skills and recruitment.

Business is key to Rochdale’s placemaking agenda and we know from our numerous roundtables with local companies that skills and recruitment are at the top of their agenda.

A succession of experts shared their recruitment experiences with the 110-strong audience, highlighting the difference that good apprentices can make to a business.

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David Matthews from the Growth Company is one of four advisers whose job it is to offer apprenticeship advice. He spoke a lot about the Apprenticeship Levy, which is used to fund apprenticeships.

He stressed that successful apprenticeships need a three-way relationship between the apprentice, the employer and the training provider. Some employers are fearful of committing to apprentices but David recommended taking them on a trial period first before both parties commit.

David said a successful apprentice can transform the dynamic of a company and he also highlighted the fact that existing staff can apply for apprenticeships as well.

Mark Whitaker is a skills adviser with Rochdale Training, which works with employers to find the right apprentices. Rochdale Training started in 1966 to help engineering companies find engineering staff but has since expanded into everything from business administration to childcare.

To give you an idea of the scale of Rochdale Training they currently have around 900 apprentices aged between 16-62 spread out across Great Manchester but especially Rochdale.

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Rochdale Training has a robust process of recruiting apprentices which involves meeting candidates and employers beforehand and regular follow-up meetings once they’ve started.

Rochdale-headquartered MID-Communications is a £20m turnover business and has been rewarded for its recruitment strategy by being awarded Platinum status from Investors in People.

The independent franchise of O2 forms part of an exclusive group of just 0.8 per cent of UK employers to have achieved Platinum status.

The company’s HR director Jennifer Hulme said they were recognised by Investors in People partly because they get 20 times more quality applications for each role advertised and have seen a 20 per cent reduction in their staff turnover rate.

What’s their secret? According to Jennifer they insist on interviewing applicants within four days. She said would-be employees have to be ‘won over’ so it’s vital to emphasise the quality of life and work/life balance aspects of the job.

Philip O’Hara is the owner / director at Northern Employment Services and has worked with a lot of Rochdale’s major employers including McCormick, Minky, Trelleborg, Cleland McIver, AST Hampsons and Salt Separation Services.

He said a growing trend has seen a number of temporary staff moving into permanent positions.  Philip said although the salary is important when hiring so are other aspects like flexible working, career enhancement opportunities and the working environments.

In a candidate-driven market Philip said interviews had to be a ‘two-way process’ explaining: “Whilst the candidate has to sell themselves to a potential employer, so too has the client got to sell themselves to the candidate.”

Tracey Wood is the head of business development at Hopwood Hall College, which has 7,000 students, of which 3,000 are aged between 16-18.

Apprentices are a key part of Hopwood’s offer and they are working with businesses to tailor their courses around their recruitment challenges.

The final word came from 21-year-old Alanya Prince, who is doing an apprenticeship in business administration level 3 at Hopwood College and is an apprenticeship ambassador. In simple terms she said apprentices and employers get out what they put in. Here here to that!

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