ADPR InsightTop TipsWork 20.08.2020

Creating opportunities for the next generation: Recruitment in the new normal

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused significant damage to the economy, resulting in widespread unemployment and the UK’s quickest drop in recruitment activity since 2009. In light of the recent news that the UK has officially entered into a recession, it’s understandable that recruitment may not be at the top of your to-do list, but getting the right people into your company now could bring huge benefits to your business in the long term.

Many businesses have suffered drastically in the wake of the pandemic and will have taken the difficult decision to make valued team members redundant. However, there is also a significant proportion of companies who are seizing the opportunity to pivot their business model, services or products to adapt to the new world we are living in. And of course, there are those whose companies have positively thrived – think Zoom, hot tub manufacturers and puppy breeders to name a few.

At the moment nobody can know precisely what the future holds for our economic growth, but all business owners will inevitably have their role to play in what happens next with our recovery.

One of the great sadnesses of the pandemic is the millions of young, talented people who will be affected by the fallout from the recession. From gap years being cancelled and uncertainty about whether to attend university, through to the difficulty of finding recruitment without any prior experience. Future prospects for the next generation are some of the most uncertain of all.

According to recent research from the Institute of Student Employers (ISE) more than a quarter of UK businesses plan to reduce the number of graduates they recruit, with a further 23% cutting apprenticeships and school leaver programmes altogether. Whilst some companies are still recruiting, opportunities for raw talent to find a way into the marketplace have become stagnant.

Whilst cashflow and stability is paramount for all businesses, the future success of our economy is intrinsically linked to the skills and talent of young people. But at a time when a large majority of businesses are fighting for survival, what action can business leaders take now to ensure they continue to provide support and experience to the future workforce?

One thing is certain, for the first time in several years it’s an employer’s market out there and exceptionally driven, talented people will almost certainly be approaching your company in search of work. Whilst it’s easy for us all to default into assuming we can’t afford to be recruiting, it’s also critically important to consider the bigger picture and future survival of our companies.

As we move from full crisis mode to an acceptance of the new normal, very few businesses can afford to stand still. Building a winning workforce with a digital focus will be paramount to the evolution of your business and getting the right skills in place is going to be essential. Before discounting recruitment as a practical impossibility, take some time to explore the options available and consider whether investing in new staff will be a cost or a benefit to your business.

Hire an Apprentice:

One of our core values at ADPR is to provide a culture of opportunity to young talent in the local area. It’s something we feel passionately about, and we were just two weeks in to welcoming our new apprentice, Kira, to the team when we were forced into lockdown.

“If someone had asked me six months ago whether I would consider onboarding a new member of staff remotely, I would have dismissed it as an impossible and hugely impractical task. I couldn’t have been more wrong! What I assumed would be difficult turned out to be a relatively straightforward process and over the past five months, Kira, has become an integral part of our team. Sometimes, the things we least expect can teach us that the impossible and impractical is worth taking a chance on.” – Kate O’Sullivan, ADPR’s MD

Hiring an apprentice can be a cost-effective option to consider, but the benefits extend way beyond any cost involved. Your apprenticeship provider will take the pain out of the recruitment process by finding and shortlisting candidates for you. They will also provide an excellent training programme to sit alongside the day-to-day tasks your apprentice will be completing for your business. Perhaps, most importantly of all, your apprentice is likely to be bright, enthusiastic, digitally minded and willing to work hard to further their own career development.

As part of its Plan for Jobs policy to boost the economy, the Government has pledged to pay businesses a new payment of £2,000 per apprentice until January 2021. They have also introduced a brand new bonus for businesses to hire apprentices aged 25 and over with a payment of £1,500. These payments will be in addition to the existing £1,000 incentive the government already provides for new 16 to 18 year old apprentices, meaning that employers could receive up to £3,000 per apprentice.

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Kickstart scheme:

The kickstart scheme is a £2 billion fund to create hundreds and thousands of high-quality six-month work placements aimed at those aged 16-24 who are currently on Universal Credit. The funding for each job will cover 100% of the minimum national wage for 25 hours a week, plus the associated National Insurance and Pension contributions.

The idea behind the scheme is that someone, who would be otherwise facing long-term unemployment, gets a placement and some valuable experience, whilst businesses are provided with additional support that the Government will foot the bill for.

All businesses are being encouraged to take advantage of the scheme, but before rushing in, do take some time to consider whether it is right for your company and what experience you can offer. Whoever you take on is likely to be at the very start of their career and will need training and support throughout their placement. This can be time intensive, so do be realistic about whether you are in a position to offer something of value for each party.

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If you require additional support from someone with a higher level of experience but aren’t in a position to commit to employing someone, looking at bringing in freelance support can be a great alternative.

Freelancers can hit the ground running, blend into your existing team and are usually prepared to be flexible and get stuck in where required. The real bonus is that you can switch the service on and off as required without any of the additional costs associated with employing someone.

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Work experience:

If you really aren’t in a position to carry any additional costs, there are still things you can do to provide support to the next generation by offering short periods of work experience to those looking for work.

There’s no escaping the fact that providing work experience involves a time commitment from your side, but the experience it can offer young, ambitious people will be of huge value to them – and you never know, you might just find your next shining star in the process.

Many young people have just completed college or university courses and are simply looking to get a bit of experience to include on their CVs. These people are our future and without support from the wider business community they will struggle to get on to the first rung of their career ladder.

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Recruitment consultants:

If you are in a position to think about recruitment, don’t discount the support a specialist recruitment consultant can bring to your business. Yes, there is always going to be a fee involved, but many consultants are offering discounted rates at the moment, so it is worth exploring how they may be able to help you.

A good recruitment consultant will take the time to understand your business and requirements and will take the pain out of the selection process by finding the very best fit for your needs.

As it stands, most consultants will already have a pool of highly qualified candidates on their books, so if you’re ready to take the plunge, but don’t have the time to focus on finding new recruits it is well worth having a chat with a reputable recruitment consultancy to see how they may be able to help.

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Whatever shape your business is currently in, recruitment should always be a consideration in your Covid-19 recovery strategy. Think about the skills you need on-board to grow or change your business and explore all of the available options. It might not be as impossible as you first think.

Every business has its own unique challenges and perhaps you need a bespoke product that touches on parts of two of more of our SME products. If this sounds like you, then look no further! Our Bespoke Business Blend Service is purposefully designed to create a tailored approach to work directly on getting you the success you need in multiple areas of your business.

The Department of Commerce states that 70% of smaller companies go out of business within just one year of experiencing a crisis – we think this is enough of a reason to be prepared! Our Crisis PR 101 guide will give you the tools you need to develop a crisis plan that will protect your business when a crisis strikes. As well as the guide you’ll get top tips from experts to give you more support in building a futureproof plan for your business.