Interview with Simon Reichwald

January 23, 2019

The Changing Face of Graduate and Apprentice Recruitment

Interview with Simon Reichwald: Strategic Lead for Emerging Talent MyKindaFuture & Honorary Vice President of The Institute Of Student Employers

Please can you talk us through MyKindaFuture and how you work with young people?

MyKindaFuture are the UK’s leading emerging talent specialist and we believe in giving every young person equal power and opportunity to shape their future, and this is what drives our social mission. We achieve this through both face-to-face activity and innovative digital engagement platforms, all young person focused.

In today’s competitive early careers space, employers need to run innovative outreach programmes to cut through the noise, access hard-to-reach diverse talent and recruit engaged apprentices and graduates ahead of the competition;and early engagement with those young people is key to this, so not just in Year 13 or their final undergraduate year.

Through our work and wide experience over the last 25 years, we at MyKindaFuture (MKF) have enabled over 100 FTSE 250 employers to connect with, inform, inspire and recruit young people. We always do it in a way which provides measurable impact & outputs for young people, businesses and the wider society.

We leverage our networks to target and engage the right audience for our Partners, from the percentage of students receiving free school meals, Black Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME), size or strategic location of the school, college or university, as well as a particular focus e.g. STEM or tech subjects.

What is your role in the organisation?

My day to day involves all things emerging talent, from working with leading employers to create and / or implement their apprentice and graduate talent strategies; shaping innovative engagement activities or youth friendly recruitment processes; advising universities on how to engage with employers, increase the employment outcomes of their graduates & support young people before starting university; right the way through to creating tips and advice for students on how to get into employment and build a successful career.

I hate to admit it, but I have been working in this field for over 20 years’! I have been fortunate to work with many of the largest HR and graduate & apprentice recruiters in the UK.

We have created numerous award winning strategies, and most recently we have spent a lot of time helping businesses maximise the value from the apprenticeship levy.

I am in the senior leadership team at MyKindaFuture, which I love. The MKF team are a powerhouse of just over 35 people. I support the team to work with employers from all sectors to target, attract and engage the best and most diverse talent out there.

In September of last year I was excitedly appointed Honorary Vice-President of the Institute of Student Employers and in November 2017 was made Honorary Teaching Fellow at Lancaster University, as part of the ‘Leaders in Residence’, which all sounds very grand, but it does allow me to make even more impact ‘on employers, drive the apprenticeship agenda and support young people. I am also part of the Apprenticeship Diversity Champion Network, set up by Government to support its commitment
to increase the proportion of apprenticeship starts by those from a BAME background by 20% by 2020. The network provides a place to learn and share practical ideas on how to attract and successfully recruit diverse apprentices. We share best practice and importantly make very clear pledges (that we report on quarterly) as to the impact each member is making when it comes to diversity and apprenticeships. So, I am pretty busy!

How are your flagship programmes supporting employers and what impact are you having on your corporate clients?

Every programme is bespoke. We run in the region of 1,100 face-to-face events annually, ranging from on-site school workshops, to one-day skills sessions or multi-day work experience programmes.

Last year we won a ‘ Outstanding Supplier Of The Year’ Award for our work in engaging and recruiting Higher Apprentices for Roll-Royce, with a significant number of hires being female.

We have recently outreached and delivered the TCS ‘Experience Work’ programme, which engaged and supported over 900 diverse young people in London, together with over 80 TCS volunteers, over a one-week period.

Much of the work we do focuses on raising the visibility of employers, dispelling myths young people might have of those employers, and helping organisations reach and recruit a diverse mix of young people, which would otherwise be too challenging given the increasing resource limitations many
employers face. 

What are the biggest challenges facing employers when it comes to engaging with millennials?

Technology! Early talent and HR professionals must embrace technology and digital thinking, because candidates are demanding a different relationship with organisations. We are now in a digital and ‘relationship-centric’ era. Candidates expect to build personal relationships with multiple companies as they are deciding where to apply, which offers to accept, and which organisation suits them best.

Improving candidate experience through technology is a must for employers. 10 years ago tech usage was limited due to cost and implementation challenges. Today, technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI) influence all areas of early talent recruitment e.g. Chat bots. For example: our AI-ready technology platform – connectr – is being used throughout the early talent recruitment life cycle. 

Why do you think employers struggle to engage with emerging talent?

There are many common challenges and misconceptions surrounding emerging talent. With so many young people out there, how do employers identify the right young people to target? And importantly, not just attract more diverse talent but actually hire them. Diverse talent needs the right personalised support to help them succeed into employment.

The number of young people who acquire and develop the necessary level of work place skills, through work experience opportunities or exposure to the work environment, is declining. This means young people applying for and starting school leaver programmes are increasingly less equipped than they were 8 to 10 years ago. Our study revealed that 87% of the 250 young people we surveyed felt ill equipped for the roles for which they had been accepted.

What really inspires you?

When a young person, be that an apprentice or graduate, is told they have the job they really want (their reaction and joy says it all!). As I heard Sir Lenny Henry says just recently, the best diversity outreach programmes need to deliver real jobs at the end of them, as that is a great way for a young person to change their life! Each quarter we review our social impact and seeing the number for young people who, along with our employer partners support, have had meaningful employment encounters. This keeps me going! In February alone we ran 192 school/college and university events on behalf of our clients.

I also have the privilege of working with MyKindaFuture’s very own apprentice, Evin, and seeing her learn and grow makes me know it is all worth it.