Building Successful Talent Programmes

First Intuition Director Gareth John recently hosted a fascinating evening on building successful talent programmes with four excellent speakers covering a range of interesting and relevant topics.

How to build a successful talent programme

Building Successful Talent Programmes

First Intuition Director Gareth John recently hosted a fascinating evening on building successful talent programmes with four excellent speakers covering a range of interesting and relevant topics.

Building Successful Talent Programmes

Gareth John said “I spend a lot of time talking with employers around the region and the number one issue that I hear is the challenge currently presented by the recruitment and retention of talent. There is a clear ‘war for talent’ which some organisations are finding it hard to fight. In response to this feedback I organised an event with ICAEW East Anglia which provided us with some invaluable insight from an incredibly diverse panel of speakers”.

The changing face of recruitment and retention have become ever more complicated with school leavers, graduate intakes, apprentices, internal progression, staff retention and talent programmes all to be considered, not to mention inter-generational management, especially generation Z!

Our panel of speakers take you through the things you need to know about Building Successful Talent Programmes!

Engaging with schools

Anne Bailey, founder and CEO of Form The Future, thinks that there is a clear gap between what students are learning at school and the skills that they need in order to be ready for the workplace.  Her concern that the worlds of education and employment were completely disconnected led her to establish Form the Future. Form The Future work to connect schools and their students with role models, mentors and coaches from local businesses that are seeking more engagement with school leavers. Anne stressed the value of employers getting directly involved with events at schools to promote careers. Since potential school leavers can be less ‘formed’ than grads, offering work experience can be a very useful ‘extended job interview’ for both the organisation and the youngster.

Recruiting and managing Generation Z

Kelly Drewery, business psychologist and talent manager at Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Police Services, explained that this is the first time that five generations have been in the workplace together, and that creates unique challenges. To her knowledge there is no research that shows that any generation has different personality traits, but they do have differences in experiences that make their needs and priorities different i.e. technologies they have been exposed to in childhood, their economic and political outlook…they won’t have any experiencing of researching things other than by ‘googling it’, many of them don’t like picking up the phone to talk to people, they have no idea of what a final salary pension scheme is.

3 key questions that managers and employers need to ask themselves when dealing with Gen Z:

  1. How to get their attention? How do you even get access to them? Some youngsters don’t even have phone numbers as they communicate exclusively through Apps.
  2. What skills do they bring and what skills don’t they bring? Entrepreneurial drive is increasingly common but social skills can be underdeveloped.
  3. Who do they trust? As business leaders how can we engage with them in a way they trust. They have been turned cynical by ‘fake news’ online.

Quick tips:

  • Attention spans are short so think about how to get access to them through social media and visuals. Host online recruitment events.
  • They want authentic interactions, maybe with junior staff.
  • Pay and security are more important to them than many think.
  • Their life choices are different than previous generations. They might be choosing between University or buying a house or going travelling, rather than being able to do all of them.

The recipe for success in the War for Talent

Michael Walby, formerly Director of Professional Qualification Training at KPMG, thinks the key things to look for when interviewing candidates are:

  1. A sense of purpose. Can they articulate why joining the organisation will make a difference to them? Does that align to the purpose of the business?
  2. Passion for the everyday work. Will the daily work they will be doing energise them?
  3. A growth mindset and willingness to fail. Will they be willing to develop through failure?
  4. Healthy habits that give incremental improvement.
  5. Authenticity. Are they confident in who they are, or are they ‘filtering’ their real self?

Further tips for successful transition from education to the world of work:

  • Offer multiple entry-points (school leavers, graduates, experienced hires) to maximise your chance of finding potential.
  • Allow staff to keep options for their career pathways open for as long as possible. Don’t narrow then down too early.
  • They need help to adapt to making important decisions for themselves. Empower and support them to make those decisions but hold them accountable for the results.

Retention and internal career pathways

Jonathan Evans, Global Talent Scout & Capability Lead at AstraZeneca, closed by highlighting the fact that diverse teams are the highest performing so avoid recruiting in your own image!

Jonathan stressed the pace of change that all organisations face. Organisations and individuals need to be agile and multi-faceted which requires a positive mindset of lifelong learning.

Organisations are often too lean with everyone maxed out, which doesn’t allow time for a focus on longer-term career development of staff with potential. Try your hardest to build slack in for this as the business will ultimately benefit.

Leadership roles require a great breadth of technical and commercial experience so rotations during early years are highly valuable (as many apprenticeship programmes offer). It helps to build leaders and teams of leaders with the crucial skills to face the future:

  • Enterprise leadership
  • Digital literacy
  • Learning agility

Please click on the boxes below to find out more about our apprenticeship programmes.


Download our guide to planning, implementing and monitoring market leading school leaver programmes.



Accountancy Apprenticeships: Review of 2019

Why Start an Apprenticeship at First Intuition

Apprenticeship Skills Days: Teaching the skills employers are actively searching for

Other Related Media

Recruiting the COVID Generation – Full Discussion


Recruiting the COVID Generation – Synopsis