This morning, all eyes have been on the college leavers who received their A Level results. Whether celebrating or commiserating, for many the big question will have been, ‘What next?

Despite expectations of a record number of university places being available through clearing, some students are instead planning to opt for an apprenticeship or to seek full-time employment.

As an employer therefore, one key question springs to mind: What could college leavers bring to my business?

It’s a way to encourage new talent into your organisation

Employing fresh talent is a chance to really nurture home-grown skills. We spoke to our customer BRE, who was awarded ‘Employer of the Year’ for its Apprenticeship Scheme last year. Engineering is well-known as a challenging industry for recruitment, and BRE spoke of its difficulty recruiting the niche skillset it requires for certain roles.

Introducing an Apprenticeship Scheme created solely for school leavers enabled BRE to attract and nurture young talent – ultimately allowing the organisation to grow its ‘own stars of the future’.

Similarly, the IT and Technology industry is suffering from a skills shortage, and many employers are turning to early careers or apprenticeships to develop their own talent. We are too, having hired Lewis as our first apprentice, after finishing his last year at college.

Ready to learn and soak up your company culture

Tara Bishop, who launched BRE’s scheme, described school and college leavers as a ‘blank canvas’. With no preconceived ideas (or bad habits!), these new employees offer you the opportunity to really develop team members who will be loyal, motivated and understand the business inside and out.

College leavers can also bring a wonderfully fresh and new perspective to your team. Think of the creativity young people new to the world of work could bring. Sure, without industry knowledge or experience, some ideas might not always be practical or realistic, but a fresh approach can still be hugely valuable.

And how do you make it work for both of you?

College leavers will need – and expect – sound career development advice and training. Structure will be important, as will a clearly assigned mentor or line manager who will be able to guide them through the ups and downs of starting full-time employment.

Spend some time at the beginning of their appointment outlining the different areas of the business, and allow them the opportunity to experience various roles, so as to garner a well-rounded understanding of your operating structure.

Regular appraisals, setting of objectives and opportunities to attend training or work towards professional qualifications will also be essential. These will not only help your new starter to settle in and experience rewarding levels of engagement, but will also ensure your business benefits from as much skill and knowledge as possible.

And if you can’t jump straight into offering a job suitable for college leavers?

Consider offering summer work experience or a paid internship, so a young person can gather some industry experience before their next steps in the world of work.

Or, as a first step, you could consider contacting your local college or sixth form to offer a careers talk to students next term, just to start building links with academia in your community.

Who knows what doors it could open…

Find out more

What we can do to change perceptions of apprenticeships

How to offer a fantastic work experience placement

Why graduates should consider joining an SME

The SME guide to attracting graduates

About the author

Tristan Potter

Tristan has a decade's worth of experience writing content and copy for organisations across Bristol and the Southwest of England. He has written on a diverse range of topics, including technology, philosophy, politics, and recruitment. His writing has appeared in The Drum, HR Grapevine, and The Guardian, among other publications. He joined Hireserve in March 2022.