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SECTOR FOCUS – RECRUITMENT SPECIAL – Support and options for recruiting

Updated: Mar 9, 2022

Having trouble recruiting? Want to recruit in a different way? Would love to recruit local talent?

This month Knowsley Insight speaks to a handful of members about how they can help or how they are addressing recruitment issues. We look at several different ways to recruit and how a number of our members have created programmes that you could join on to, learn from, or get support from, to help you raise aspirations for our local students and recruit the best new team members for your business…

Waterside Training

While some businesses say they have difficulty finding the right people, one Liverpool City Region apprenticeship training business says it has plenty of takers for its high-skill apprenticeship opportunities.

Waterside Training, based in St Helens, recruits and trains electrical, mechanical and multi skilled engineering apprentices, for both small and large global manufacturing, engineering and science businesses across the North West.

It’s annual intake is around 45 apprentices, and business and growth executive, Michelle Lewis, says it is not unusual to receive more than 500 applications per year for their prestigious apprenticeship vacancies.

“We have been in business for a very long time and have a well-regarded reputation for providing high quality bespoke apprenticeships,” said Michelle. “And we are really effective in promoting our vacancies on behalf of our employers, visiting schools and colleges across the city region, and promoting our vacancies across our social media channels.

“The clients we work with are in many cases well known household names, and our employers insist on finding the very best candidates for their apprenticeship schemes. We adopt a very robust and rigorous selection process, ensuring we match the right apprentice to the employer.

“We are increasingly encouraged by the growing number of female applicants that are successfully recruited year on year.”

Waterside Training has always attracted large numbers of school leaver applications, however is seeing growing numbers of older candidates, many of whom are looking to change their careers.

The business is increasingly encouraged by the ever-growing number of female applicants securing apprenticeships, and going on to have very successful careers in what was once regarded as a male dominated industry.

Michelle explained: “our apprenticeship model is quite bespoke, but can be flexible, but in the majority of cases employers choose our full time option whereby apprentices in their first year of the apprenticeship, attend with us for five days a week.

“Our employers like this model as they then receive the apprentices for four days a week in the second year who are well prepared, with a great level of training and awareness to prepare them for being on site.

Waterside Training’s history dates back to 1957 when it was initially established an in-house training function as part of iconic St Helens glassmaker, Pilkington, then in the 1990s it expanded and secured contracts with other manufacturing and engineering companies.

The business also has a large portfolio of other specialist bespoke technical and upskilling training courses, working with clients across the country, providing training such as specialist welding courses, electrical maintenance, motor control and PLC training.

Despite the pandemic, recruitment for 2022/2023 is already looking very strong for Waterside Training as more employers are enquiring about apprentices to support their growth strategy and skills development needs for the future. Any employer looking for support with apprenticeships should call Michelle on 01744 616837.

Riverside College

Riverside College is an Ofsted Outstanding training provider and offers a wide range of vocational programmes including full and part time, apprenticeships, higher education and bespoke training. We spoke to Jayne Smith, Head of Skills and Enterprise about their work with employers and the recruitment situation.

Jayne said; the employers across all sectors seem to be having difficulties filling vacancies at the moment. It's a really tight labour market and the latest statistics available confirm a low ratio of candidates to jobs – it’s about 1.1 candidates for every vacancy compared to about 5 candidates during the credit crunch crisis of 2008.

‘We're finding that employers are looking for different ways to fill their vacancies. In a candidate driven market, one solution is to ‘Grow your own talent’. This is where offering work experience and apprenticeships are becoming increasingly popular.

60% of Riverside College’s apprenticeship starts for 16 to 18 year olds this year have been filled by students from our full time education programmes. They undertake work experience as part of their study programme and employers are being so impressed by their work ethic, generic and technical skills that they are being offered an apprenticeship. This is becoming increasingly popular with small employers who prefer to recruit from our student pipeline and benefit from trialling someone who has already developed some essential skills and are ‘job ready’, for example in construction this includes ensuring our students have health and safety training and a CSCS card.

This trend is only going to increase as from September we are offering four of the new T Level routes. These are technical programmes developed in collaboration with employers, are equivalent to three A Levels and include substantial periods of work placement. Initially these will be in Engineering and Manufacturing, Built Environment, Health and Childcare.

We are also looking at how we can support employers with the challenges of developing the future workforce needed to support the green skills revolution. The College is already delivering part time programmes in renewable energy and electric vehicles and we are working with local employers to develop these further for example with hydrogen networks.

If employers would like more information about how apprenticeships or T Level placements could benefit their business, please contact us at or call 0151 257 2828.

McIver Scott Recruitment

David Wafer has worked in recruitment for more than two decades and he says the pandemic has shaken up the recruitment market in a way he has not experienced before.

In 2015, David founded his own Liverpool-based recruitment company, McIver Scott after a senior career with the world’s largest HR solutions business. He and his team of associates look to identify and recruit talent for clients mainly in professional services, HR and sales. It also works with manufacturing clients in Knowsley.

It focuses on permanent hires, not temporary. David said: “The thing to remember is that the candidates we are looking for are usually what we call passive. That means they are not actively looking for a new job. It means we have to headhunt them and utilise psychometric personality profiling with both our clients and candidates to really maximise the fit”

He described the pre-pandemic market in 2019 as “fairly buoyant”, adding: “The market now is like I have never seen it before. There are often three main reasons why people want to change their job – they don’t like their boss, their work culture is poor or there is a lack of opportunities for promotion.

“With the exception of manufacturing, we have seen a big increase during the pandemic in the number of people working from home. As we come out of the pandemic many companies are adopting a hybrid model, allowing staff to continue to work from home for part of the week.

“That means reasons one and two are less relevant as people aren’t as exposed to a boss or a work culture they don’t like for the same amount of time so there is less incentive to move. Add to that companies are also offering promotions to people to persuade them to stay.”

This, says David, is making it harder for firms that have skills shortages to find and recruit the right people. He believes this change is now structural, not temporary – the new normal. His advice to businesses is that they need to focus more than they do on contingency and succession planning.

He added: “They need to have a strategy in place otherwise they are going to have a problem. The Combined Authority published a study which outlined the changing demographics of the Liverpool city region.

“It showed that by 2030 it is one course to lose 36,000 people from the workforce due to retirement with the biggest proportion of that figure leaving by 2025. So many experienced senior and middle managers and leaders are getting close to retirement. Replacing them will be a huge challenge.

“Because of the shortage of skilled and experienced people, organisations are going to have to accept that the recruitment process is going to take longer and they plan accordingly. They need a multi-faceted strategy which needs to involve upskilling their existing staff and offering them proper career progression.

“People who are looking to move are asking for more money but they are also looking closely at the working cultures of their prospective employers. They are looking for evidence of progressive attitudes and emotional intelligence.

“The businesses that are struggling the most are the ones not investing in training and not taking a closer look at their own workplace cultures. It is massively important they have a plan in place to both attract and retain the right people. Too many are finding themselves behind the curve.”

The Forshaw Group and The Knowsley Apprenticeship Partnership

The Forshaw Group is leading the way in Knowsley as it continues to promote and support the Knowsley Apprenticeship Partnership.

Managing Director, Liam Hanlon, recently attended All Saints school in Kirkby and delivered a short introduction about The Forshaw Group and the type of apprenticeships the business provides, to all year groups. This was in preparation for the next steps for all pupils with an interest in pursuing apprenticeships in the construction sector and is part of the long term support The Forshaw Group committed to raising aspirations and providing real opportunities for local students.

Next up, Liam will be conducting a face-to-face presentation to those school leavers who may be considering a future in our industry. This will be followed by a series of Open Days…

The Forshaw Group has arranged open days for these students to visit The Forshaw Group and other local businesses involved in the scheme, before the students submit a formal expression of their interest. Interviews will then be provided to place them in the best apprenticeship options.

Liam Hanlon commented: “It’s fantastic to be involved again in supporting the young people from our community into the workplace. I am passionate about providing skills and opportunities for young people across the construction industry. This initiative, partnered with other local construction firms, shows a strong commitment to supporting apprenticeships, to address the issue of the industry skills shortage.”

You can still be part of these Open Days:

All Saint’s School has a long list of students who have expressed an interest and has arranged with the students and their parents to attend two open evenings to see what training opportunities, skills and college places are on offer:

  • Thursday 17 March, TFG 15:30-17:30: 5 Stockpit Road, Knowsley Industrial Park, L33 7TQ

  • Thursday 24 March, FSH 15:30–17:30: Unit 7 Chapel Brook, Huyton, L36 6FH

You and any of your sub-contractors that can offer placements are all welcome to attend and to be included in the presentation. The students will then confirm their trade/skill preference choices with the company and arrange to attend a one-week work experience 18–22 April 2022. Each company can then discuss and agree the funding available with the various college/training organisations.

New apprentices/trainees would then be inducted during July 2022 and look to start their apprenticeship training from September 2022

Hiring at the graduate or intern level? Connecting SMEs to Graduate Talent

LCR Grad Scheme

The LCR Grad Scheme aims to connect local graduate talent with SMEs across Knowsley and the Liverpool City Region (LCR). Funded by the European Social Fund, the scheme will ensure businesses have direct and streamlined access to graduates residing in the LCR, from all universities.

This project runs attraction campaigns and recruitment processes for SMEs who are hiring graduates. Once employed, graduates are enrolled on a six-month training and development programme to enhance their skills. Businesses will receive a £1000 bursary (funded through Santander Universities) to fund a current student, to devote 100 hours to a ‘real world project’ for the benefit of your business.

The LCR Grad Project Team, based at the University of Liverpool, will manage the following:

Marketing and Attraction: In partnership with a best-in-class graduate attraction and marketing agency, creation of a brand and marketing campaign to attract a high calibre of diverse candidates as well as raise your company profile.

Recruitment: Working collaboratively with you to design a recruitment process to hire the strongest candidates.

Training & Development: Together with a third-party training provider, delivery of a bespoke programme for graduates addressing skill gaps and work-readiness.


  • A specialised recruitment programme aimed at finding the best graduate talent in the LCR.

  • A bespoke six-month graduate Training & Development programme.

  • Retention of LCR graduate talent by offering a career path to compete with some of the most attractive graduate schemes nationwide.

  • An extended network of contacts across stakeholders within the LCR.

  • Toolkits to support best practice in recruitment and employee development.

Eligibility: To be eligible for the LCR Grad Scheme you must;

  • Have a postcode based in one of the 6 boroughs of the LCR; Sefton, St Helens, Liverpool, Knowsley, Wirral, Halton

  • Have less than 250 registered employees in your business.

  • Be willing to extend a permanent offer of employment.

  • Be willing to offer a graduate level role with potential for career progression.

LJMU Graduate Futures

Are you a Small to Medium-Sized Enterprise located in the Liverpool City Region looking to scale-up or expand your business? The LJMU Graduate Futures (50% funded programme) will allow you to harness their graduate-level talent for 12 months as part of a student’s Sandwich Year placement.

With 250 degrees across a range of subject areas, LJMU students will deliver knowledge whilst injecting fresh ideas. Once they return to complete their studies at the end of the placement, they will possess industry insights that will be reflected in the future workforce as they move from university into full-time employment.

With start dates from July 2022 you need to register your expression of interest ASAP and the LJMU team will be in touch to find out more about your business need and start talent matching you to one of their students.

Sandwich placement can be delivered on-site at your company, virtually (home-based), or a blended mix of on-site and home-based working. This affords you the flexibility to deliver your business function whilst supporting the student in their learning and development.

LJMU has a long history of supporting local employers. They have promoted graduate retention in the Liverpool City Region for over 20 years and they know that students and graduates make up a significant part of the labour market.

So, if you can offer a supportive environment where a student can learn and grow in a safe space to develop their skills and confidence then the LJMU team would love to hear from you.

Eligibility criteria:

  • Must add value to the learning outcomes and skills of the student

  • Hours must not be used to cover the role of an existing employee

  • Hours must not be used to the detriment of another existing employee

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