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How to find the skilled talent your company needs

Last updated 15 September 2020
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Finding the best talent

In the second of a series of 3 bulletins for employers, our Skills Strategy Manager, Jamie Mackay, sets out some practical advice for finding the talent you need.

Collaborate with education through work experience

Did you know you don’t have to go to a university to study for a higher education qualification? Moreover, did you know that we have over 10 higher education providers* in the Enterprise M3 LEP area? And of course in each of these providers, there are some keen students hungry to learn new skills to help them work closer towards their career aspirations.

The Youth Voice Census Report 2020 presents some fascinating insights into the feelings of young people (age 14-24) about UK education, training, work and their prospects. For example, 87% were not highly confident they would find quality jobs in their local area. Alongside this, 78% agree that work experience helps them build skills.

With these two statistics in mind, we at the LEP would like to give local employers an opportunity to address both of them at once – by collaborating with education and training through offering work experience to learners. This will not only help build the profile of your organisation but also connect you to learners who are motivated, proactive and keen to experience the working world.

Here are some ways you can set up some work experience initiatives:


An apprenticeship is a genuine job with accompanying learning through a training provider. It is a way for individuals to earn while they learn, gaining valuable skills and knowledge in a specific job role. The apprentice gains this through a wide mix of learning in the workplace, formal off-the-job training and the opportunity to practise new skills in a real work environment. Apprenticeships are offered at a range of skills levels from level 2 (GCSE equivalent) to level 7 (Masters equivalent).

The Government have produced a valuable guide for employers with further details and right now there are some financial incentives.

To help businesses offer new apprenticeships, employers will be able to claim an incentive payment for hiring a new apprentice between 1 August 2020 and 31 January 2021. For every apprentice that is a new employee to the business, they will get up to £2,000 if the Apprentice is aged 16 to 24 and up to £1,500 if they are 25 or over. Sue Taylor from the Association of Learning Providers in Surrey, sits on our Skills Advisory Panel and would be happy to engage with any employers in the Enterprise M3 LEP area who would like to explore how Apprenticeships would benefit their business.Internships

Prospects write that, “An internship is a period of work experience, offered by an organisation, lasting for a fixed period of time anywhere between a week and 12 months. They are typically undertaken by students and graduates looking to gain relevant skills.

Internships are a great way for an employer to assess a student’s capability and there are many examples where Interns are offered roles after they graduate, based on their performance. For example, the Internships Programme at the University of Southampton has collaborated with a variety of charities, SMEs and large organisations, offering work experience opportunities between 70 – 420 hours in duration, that can take place remotely or on-site, part-time during the University term or full-time in vacation periods. The Employer Relations team work closely with businesses to understand the role and support the recruitment process. Another local example of a successful internship scheme comes from Royal Holloway, University of London.

The Santander Graduate Internships Programme, in collaboration with Santander Universities, offers subsidised funding for internships with Royal Holloway finalists and recent graduates to SMEs. Internships are 4-8 weeks in length and usually take place between June and September. Similarly, the Micro-Placements Scheme offers 2-4 week summer placements for undergraduate second year students – giving them valuable work experience during the summer break, in the middle of their studies.


Whereas Internships are typically undertaken over the summer months or after graduation, a placement year or year-in-industry are taken as part of a degree and usually count towards the degree.

The award winning Placements Team at the University of Surrey coordinate 6-12 month Professional Training placements with over 2,300 industry partners all over the world. This ensures that their students are work ready and able to make an impact on the organisations they are placed with from day one.

Since 2019, all undergraduate students at Royal Holloway, University of London have also had the option to take a Placement Year (9-12 months) which can be spent studying abroad, working or carrying out voluntary work or a combination of these. The University of Winchester offer their students work placement opportunities as a chance for them to gain valuable practical experience in real working environments. The placements of varying length are also approved periods of assessed learning within the workplace and relevant to the course, where possible. 

Virtual Work Experience

The COVID-19 pandemic has meant that students and graduates have had to find alternative ways to boost their employability during lockdown. Prospects comment that, “…virtual work experience gives students and graduates the opportunity to complete a full internship from home, in most cases using nothing but a laptop.

There are virtual work experience programmes already in existance (e.g. Virtual Internships) although these sometimes have fees attached to cover the administration. With so many higher education providers in our LEP area, if this form of work experience is something you would like to explore, we would encourage you to reach out to providers using the details below.


    Higher education providers in the Enterprise M3 LEP area include:

    1. Basingstoke College of TechnologyWebsite: | Email:  
    2. Brooklands CollegeWebsite: | Email:  
    3. Farnborough College of TechnologyWebsite: | Email:
    4. Guildford College GroupWebsite: | Email:  
    5. Peter Symonds CollegeWebsite: | Email:
    6. Royal Holloway, University of LondonWebsite: | Email:  
    7. Sparsholt College HampshireWebsite:  | Email:
    8. University for the Creative ArtsWebsite: | Email:
    9. University of SouthamptonWebsite: | Email:  
    10. University of SurreyWebsite: | Email:
    11. University of WinchesterWebsite: | Email:

    If you would like to know more about how the LEP can help your business connect to education and training providers, please contact:

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