Amanda Murphy, Senior Future Talent Acquisition Consultant at Jaguar Land Rover, speaks to us and tells us what it takes to join the company.
Imagine being faced by 8,000 hopeful applicants for a job – but having just 250 Advanced and Degree places available. It sounds like a lot of paperwork! But, that’s the scale of the task faced by Amanda Murphy who, as Jaguar Land Rover’s Senior Future Talent Acquisition Consultant, is responsible for recruiting the company’s growing number of apprentices.
When Amanda first started at Jaguar Land Rover four years ago, the business had openings for 100 Advanced apprentices. It is testament to the success of the company – and perhaps the wider awareness and acceptance of apprenticeships – that last year, Jaguar Land Rover took on 245 apprentices across the business.
8,000 applications a year. How did that happen? And how do they cope?
Amanda states, “It’s a business-driven need” she says, “the company has grown. There’s a general shortage of people trained in engineering and manufacturing. But there’s also a demographic issue. There are fewer young people around and the current skills shortage is only going to get worse.”
Reacting to the inevitable, Jaguar Land Rover has set about creating its own talent pool. The company offers three apprenticeship pathways. The Advanced, the Degree and the Degree Finance and Accountancy apprenticeships. Entry level requirements vary depending on the course but because the business is all about engineering, there is a particular emphasis on having a good maths qualification. The courses, which last from four to six years, combine time spent at college and at the plant and also at Warwick university for the Degree Apprenticeship. You and your tuition fees all get paid.
So, how is it all working for Jaguar Land Rover? UNFM asked if there any obvious differences between the apprentice and the graduate intakes.
“We haven’t had a group that has rolled off from the Degree Apprenticeship from start to finish so there’s no hard data as yet,” says Amanda. “But we’re clearly keeping a very keen eye on things – anecdotally, the business reports that graduates have different expectations. Apprentices appear to be very enthusiastic and it’s easier to embed them into the company culture from day one. They have a strong sense of commitment to the business and recognize the investment that’s being made in them. However, there will always be a business need for both apprentices and graduates within Jaguar Land Rover”
Of course, Jaguar Land Rover recognises the value of graduates but apart from arriving with different expectations, they won’t have the wider skills that a Jaguar Land Rover Degree apprentice can offer. “We have certain specialist areas for which we have difficulty hiring, more niche areas – like cost engineering. An engineering graduate can do the engineering but they don’t have the financial awareness skills to fulfill the role. Likewise, a graduate accountant will know their accounting but not the engineering side. Both elements are required for these positions and this is where the Degree Apprentices fits in” says Amanda.
Setting the bar
So how do Amanda and her colleagues cope with the volume of hopefuls and select what only amounts to around three per cent of applications?
As you’d imagine, there’s a robust selection process. First, you need the basic requirements – reasonable pass grades at GCSE or A-Level. In the first stages there’s an online situation and judgement test after which around 50 per cent fall out. Possibly around another 50 per cent fall away after a psychometric test. But Amanda is keen to point out that the emphasis is on getting the right sort of people for the jobs available. “We have to manage people’s expectations and we’re pretty flexible – but that’s why we’re always reviewing and adjusting our entry level requirements” she says.” We’re not setting the bar higher – but we need to be certain that we set people up to succeed. The maths element is quite demanding – we have to make sure that people have the capability to do the roles to meet the business need. We ask for A-Level in maths at C grade or above as mandatory now for our engineering Degree Apprenticeship – this is still a lower grade of entry in comparison various other organisations and universities so we ensure that we provide people the extra support they might need. We’re here to help people succeed!”
The courses, which last from four to six years, combine time spent at college and at the plant and also at Warwick university for the Degree Apprenticeship. You and your tuition fees all get paid.
Getting the message out
Given the quite challenging entry level requirements, Jaguar Land Rover must have to recruit far and wide to their prospective apprentices. And, a lot of Amanda’s time is spent doing just that. “I work with schools and do a lot of outreach work. It continues to be a challenge. Schools’ careers advice is fragmented and can be pretty variable.
Above all, the different qualifications and grades are confusing. There isn’t a single reference point that gives the definitive grades you need to become an apprentice. And, there are different entry levels for various companies too. I’ve known wrong and inaccurate information is given out – mostly unwittingly. But it’s confusing for both young people and employers, let alone teachers and careers advisors.”
Seems that a single point of reference would be well received by people like Amanda, teachers, students and careers advisors. We at Uni’s not for me say watch this space!
You can read about the experiences of Luke Brotherwood who started as a new apprentice at Jaguar Land Rover in October. Details about their apprenticeships are here.