What 1,000 CVs and job specs revealed about apprenticeship skills

Vinit Patel Feb 19, 2018

Employers and candidates don’t see eye to eye when it comes to apprenticeship skills
The government plans to create 3 million apprenticeships by 2020. That’s nearly 1 in 10 of the current UK workforce of 32 million, studying to become - or qualified as - an apprentice. We looked at whether there is a ‘skills mismatch’ in the apprenticeship market. And if so, what can employers who train (or are about to train) apprentices do about it?
Here’s what we did:

  1. Took a sample of 1,000 records: 500 job opportunities (from reed.co.uk) and 500 anonymised apprenticeship candidate profiles (e.g. CVs, from getmyfirstjob.co.uk)

2.Implemented a tagging process similar to that used in the recommendation engine that powers globalfilter

3.Used this process to tag each job opportunity and candidate profile with one of the 22 core apprenticeship skills developed for City & Guilds’ on-programme and End Point Assessment training, which were then ranked in order of frequency

And here are the results:


There is a good, positive correlation (+0.44 on Spearman’s Rank for the statisticians out there) between the skills that employers want and those that apprentices can supply. Also, the cluster of skills in the top right (Communication, Planning & Organising and Client Focus) are popular in both groups - this is to be hoped for if not expected, since these are amongst the most sought after skills in knowledge-sector industries.
But our analysis uncovered two areas of skills mismatch, where either:

  1. employers demand skills which candidates lack (‘skills deficit’): Digital Collaboration, Maths and Data Analysis, or,

2. employers don’t demand which candidates have (‘skills surplus Healthy, Problem Solving & Decision Making, Project Planning and Mindfulness & Self-Reflection.

What might this mean for you and your business? We outline four main takeaways for you to consider in your own apprenticeship strategy (with curated learning content from globalfilter for reference!).

1. Ease your apprentices into digital collaboration and IT systems

Digital Collaboration refers to the swathes of technology and IT systems that most businesses now depend on to run their operations. Most young apprentices will not have used much IT at school beyond basic web browsing, emailing and word processing. Ease them into the systems and processes you have in your business.
For example, if they’re a sales apprentice, start with a basic introduction to good email practice, calendar use and telephone manners before showing them the bells-and-whistles of your CRM. Also be mindful of the costs of collaboration as it can lead to increased distraction, a fear-of-missing-out and lower productivity.

2. Maths (and functional skills) remain weak
Maths is part of the functional skills required by all apprentices, and regardless of their achievement at GCSE or otherwise, is a vital skill for employers to help develop. Apart from the well-documented macroeconomic issues of poor numeracy among 16-24 year olds, there are a number of excellent quality courses and articles you can provide your apprentices. Many of them are free and immediately available.

3. Improve understanding of data in your organisation
For those apprentices who have solid mathematical skills, you have an opportunity to also develop their Data Analysis skills. This can play a key part in helping your business make better use of data.
For example, an understanding of basic statistics is more relevant than pure maths to understanding data, trends and risks. It can help your apprentices think and act strategically, and base their decisions on evidence. If data is important to your business, there’s a good chance that you’re not making the most of it in your current setup!

4. Fit, healthy and mindful apprentices
We identified two related skills which apprentices say they have but which employers express no interest in: Staying Fit & Healthy and Mindfulness & Self-Reflection. Participation in sports and extracurricular activities is commonly cited on candidate profiles. Many young people have the time, energy and interest to do this at school. Encourage the positive attributes these bring to help your apprentices with their own teamwork, communication and organisational skills.
The benefits of mindful practice and self-reflection can be seen elsewhere too. Take a customer service apprentice. They’re often at the sharp end of customer calls and interactions, dealing with unhappy customers who need refunds, support or problems solved. A few simple ways to stay grounded in stressful moments can prove invaluable for these young people and help ease them into their roles.


Mindfulness practice and understanding has grown a lot in recent years. ThisGoogle Trend chart shows a near x10 increase in its interest over time.
Why is this important?

For most apprentices, your firm will be their first place of work (but unlikely their last). Set them up for success and help them with the thing they need the most: to learn. Everything from being punctual, office etiquette and running meetings to networking, collaborating, presenting; the whole gamut of skills that they'll find useful.


Filtered ran a 12 month apprenticeship programme in 2017 for three apprentices (Shola Bold, Fejsall Rada and Sydney Fowler, left-to-right); read what Shola learned here.

What next?
We have 100k+ records to analyse over the next few weeks and will be publishing the results shortly. Watch this space!
If you have any ideas, comments or contributions, please send them to me at vinit@filtered.com. We love talking to interesting, innovative companies who want to better nurture our young apprentices and the workforce more generally.

This post is part of a series that my colleagues and I at Filtered are working on. It’s broadly about how recommendations help us to make sense of all the content clutter, especially in learning. Have a look at our other posts here.
Also, we’ve recently launched a free new tool to provide personalized learning experiences for L&D and HR professionals called globalfilter for L&D. It's an online recommendation engine with over 180 high-quality learning assets to read, watch, practice and apply for our industry. Click on the link above to try it out.

About Vinit Patel
Vinit is a co-founder of Filtered. He leads on product management and operations, working with a talented team of software engineers, designers, data scientist and learning experts to deliver an outstanding product. He has a background in management consulting and is a seed-stage investor in two UK-based tech startups.
Read more by Vinit Patel

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