The OPC recently worked with a transport company, to redesign its Apprentice Heavy Vehicle Mechanics (AHVM) selection criteria and recruitment processes. The goal was to increase diversity and representation in its workforce, especially among women, in response to declining apprentice applications. Key strategic objectives the client wanted to focus on:

  • Address the underrepresentation of women in particular roles;
  • Improve overall workforce diversity;
  • Attract more women into careers;
  • Bring in more apprentices from underrepresented groups.

A key factor in the development of a new apprentice selection process was the reduction in entry-level educational requirements, replacing them with SOLAS equivalent certification. This could provide new career opportunities for underprivileged candidates.

OPC Psychologists, in collaboration with job-experts and current apprentices, developed a new apprenticeship role profile and a more inclusive selection process. This included an online application form, and a new assessment tool matrix using OPC Assessment’s Core Skills Series plus a bespoke Situational Judgement Test (SJT). New practice materials were introduced to familiarize candidates with the testing process up front. New practical exercises would give candidates the opportunity to showcase practical ‘hands-on’ skills in job-relevant scenarios. Additionally, a new interview preparation form would help candidates think ahead and present ‘the best of themselves’ confidently on the interview day.

Inclusive attraction campaign

A new attraction campaign was developed for the apprenticeship’s opportunity. It used a well-known ‘air-fix’ model image as the core visual with gender-neutral messaging and the central proposition of a ‘career built around you’. The advertising was widely visible across social media platforms and on radio. It helped drive 240 per cent more applications, with over seven per cent being female, resulting in 16 per cent female hires.

Candidate feedback and process review

Managing the digital selection stages enabled OPC psychologists to complete a review of candidate compliance and drop off rates for the assessment tools plus correlate test completion vs interview attendance and applicant success through the process. They also carried out candidate experience research, receiving over 100 responses.

‘I really loved this section. It gave me great insight into what apprentices are like and what I could be one day’

Some key insights:

  • Over 50 per cent of candidates completed the six online Core Skills Series tests. Those who didn’t complete some or all of them had a 70-85 per cent drop-off rate.
  • Those who completed all six Core Skills Series ability tests were more likely to complete the rest of the assessment tools.
  • Candidates who scored better in the tests, particularly the SJT, were more likely to succeed in interviews.
  • New practice materials helped candidates familiarize themselves with assessment tools and prepare ahead for interviews, helping give their best on the day.
  • Over 65 per cent of candidates felt the SJT was neither too challenging or too long. 85 per cent agreed it was very relevant to the apprentice role.
  • The interview preparation form was highly regarded by candidates. 87 per cent stated it was useful and 94 per cent said they understood the form’s requirements. 91 per cent stated it was very relevant to the role.

The OPC suggested that the online assessment tools were acting as self-screening instruments, helping to identify candidates more committed to the selection process and potentially more dedicated to a four-year apprenticeship scheme.

‘Testing is part of a screening process… A mechanic has to be a problem solver and mechanically minded to do the job so testing these skills is essential’

Practical Assessments

To support inclusivity, the OPC developed two new practical assessments. Applicants were given a hazard spotting task measuring risk identification on a unit and the surrounding area, while an electrical fault test required candidates to following written instructions to solve and repair an electrical problem.

The Apprenticeships Manager said ‘The new practical assessments helped demonstrate a different method for testing aptitude and talent. Some candidates excelled in these, really turning their hand to them and just ‘knocking it out of the park!’

A senior manager at the organisation said: The redesigned process has made good progress towards attracting top apprentice talent for a reliable, sustainable public transport service, ensuring enough AHVMs for future growth.’

Contact the friendly team at the OPC to see how they can help support your recruitment goals.


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