This week we welcomed HR and Talent professionals from some of London’s most exciting companies to a myth busting breakfast in the WhiteHat office.

Tasty treats from our friends at the Marylebone Kitchen fuelled us all up for the discussion

Our speakers broke down some of the common concerns and barriers that we often hear from employers investigating how to introduce an apprenticeship scheme to their workplace. We also addressed some of the actions it’s important to take in order to make sure your apprentices are set up for success when you do make those first hires.

Our fantastic panel for the morning, moderated by our Head of Sales and Account Management Urvashi

We heard from the brilliant Vyckie Cleaver, Head of People and Culture at Concentra, who drew on her own experiences of learning on the job as a key motivation for bring apprentices on board and supporting their introduction to working life. Sophie Adelman, our co-founder, gave some really valuable insights on the wider industry landscape and Sammy Dempsey, our rockstar Business Admin apprentice (who you’ll get to speak to yourself if you ever give us a ring!), shared his own personal experiences of completing his qualification across workplaces to give an honest picture of what does and doesn’t work when managing an apprentice.

“I’m the kind of person that wants to finish something I started” -Sammy

Read on to find out our key takeaways from the morning’s discussion…

Team WhiteHat out in force to facilitate the discussion


  • An apprentice brings a different approach and outlook to the workplace, beyond the usual graduates/hires.
  • If your business’ target audience is in the younger age range — apprentices can bring expert insight from firsthand experience that provides knowledge and depth well beyond focus group findings.
  • Apprenticeships are a tangible solution to the Skills Gap — that BREXIT will only exacerbate.
  • Entry-level roles can easily be converted into apprenticeships if there is internal support and vast amounts of prior experience aren’t critical. Especially in roles where experienced hires and/or graduates would get easily bored. This is where apprentices, who are eager to gain more experience, thrive.
“Actively choosing the apprenticeship route is reflective of our candidates’ maturity; when I was starting university, I couldn’t have done the same” -Sophie
Sammy sharing his story


  • Changing opinions can be tricky when a business is used to only hiring graduates. Introducing one or two into “low-risk” roles initially can help to change these perceptions for you.
  • It’s very important to consider managers’ motivations for recruiting an apprentice. Consider a questionnaire to weed out anyone doing it for the “wrong” reasons.
  • There’s no need to greatly change your recruitment process. Although you might want to consider slightly more jovial exercises or situational questions; and remove any exceedingly technical or experience-based competency questions.
“Our apprentice Tia is the backbone of the team — she does the legwork and helps everyone” -Vyckie

Final thoughts

  • Don’t be put off by the 20% off the job training — it’s not always a case of losing someone for a day! It can be made up of a plethora of activities that develop your apprentice, personally or professionally.
  • Senior Stakeholder buy-in is really powerful. So is the introduction of one or two pioneer, rockstar apprentices.
  • Never be afraid to keep challenging your apprentice and providing opportunities to learn new elements of the business. The purpose of the scheme is to inspire and engage young people with their future careers and this is achieved through challenges and responsibility.
“Our apprentice is constantly asking: what more can I do?” -Vyckie
And that’s a wrap