Why we’ve put apprenticeships at the heart of our recruitment approach

By Sinéad Rafferty, GRAHAM

As a passionate advocate of apprenticeships, it is fantastic to see the gathering momentum around them. The subject has been in the media again this week, and there is a strong sense that we are in new waters in terms of apprenticeships – they’re no longer playing ‘second fiddle’ to full time education and more employers are embracing them as their means of nurturing talent.

Over the years at GRAHAM, we’ve broadened our approach in how we recruit new talent, putting apprenticeships at the heart.

I was invited to join Workplus in 2015, and was immediately drawn to the collaborative principles, which, over time, have proven to be the foundation of its success.


“In the spirit of partnership, I joined forces with other organisations, including competitors, to achieve the collective goal of making it easier for employers to find apprentices.”


The collaboration made us stronger. It was also an endorsement that the apprenticeship approach was right. Furthermore, it was extremely effective, as we willingly shared ideas and solutions in an attempt to address similar challenges and time pressures.

Workplus has helped us streamline our apprenticeship process and it has given me the support and confidence that I’ve needed to identify and attract the best apprentices. The Workplus platform is also very efficient, with its easy selector tools drastically reducing the number of hours needed to sift through CVs.


“As a company, we’ve realised that apprenticeships really work!”


Apprenticeships are high on the agenda at GRAHAM because we see the benefits they bring in terms of new talent, succession planning, sustainable development and ensuring a high–performing workforce.

Developing our apprentices is not just about helping them grow in core technical skills but also about enhancing their behavioural skills and general wellbeing. We give careful thought to mentoring and have embedded nurturing talent deep into company culture. It’s not a ‘nice to do’ – it’s profoundly strategic. We’ve seen the benefits in terms of performance and high retention rates.

The culture of apprenticeships has been on a wider – and very positive – journey. Several years ago, I often found myself explaining to schools, parents and young people about Workplus apprenticeships. Now, people ask me about them! It’s incredibly heart–warming to see the shift – ‘earn as you learn’ is more attractive than ever – and the debt free aspect is now a bonus – it used to be a selling point.  


“I’m hardwired to be people focussed. For me, it’s always about people.”


So, it’s incredibly satisfying to see our apprentices happily progressing in their careers, being mentored every step of the way, bringing to us new ideas and a fresh way of looking at things.

Workplus has also provided the context to work with colleagues across the sector and identify opportunities for new pathways. Professionally, it is hugely rewarding to be part of a network that drives forward new opportunities for people.

GRAHAM has been part of Workplus since it began in 2015 and Sinéad sits on the Workplus Advisory Board.

Workplus is helping employers find new apprentices in our campaign in August 2021.

Sign–up by 2 July to get involved

Click here for more information.

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