In the UK we have significantly reduced our internal time-to-hire processes and consolidated our induction and onboarding support to increase accessibility and agility. In the US, the rapid deployment of a virtual recruitment process enabled over 6,100 jobs to be filled in 2020, despite the impacts of the pandemic, with our offer acceptance rate increasing to 91% (up from 84% in 2019). Developing virtual onboarding processes also increased our flexibility, efficiency and effectiveness as many new starters began their employment working from their homes.
As the economic impact of the pandemic led to redundancies in other companies, we coordinated our response to outplacement providers to match people with our vacancies across the UK and Saudi Arabia.
By the end of the year, we had processed more than 500 applications for employment through outplacement providers, resulting in more than 150 interviews and 60 people starting work with us. This work continues into 2021.
In 2020, we enhanced our early careers selection process to ensure it opens opportunities to applications from all groups, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Through our ongoing commitment to the Movement to Work programme in the UK we provide a pathway into employment or training for disadvantaged and unemployed young people through quality work experience. Having also welcomed apprentices made redundant from other organisations as a result of the pandemic in 2020, we are extending our support to the young unemployed in 2021 by taking on 30 young people through the UK government’s Kickstart initiative.
Our award-winning apprenticeship and graduate programmes bring new talent into our business and help individuals develop foundational skills for a rewarding career.
In the 2020 cycle we recruited around 750 apprentices and nearly 180 graduates into our UK businesses – one of our highest intakes in recent years. We have just over 420 graduate scheme members in the UK and 63 undergraduate students on a 12-month industrial placement.
In 2020, 40% of our global hires (almost 3,700 positions) were into Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) roles.
To help address the STEM skills shortage and increase the diversity of the pipeline of STEM talent in our major markets, we continue our long-term commitment to engage children and young adults in STEM subjects and careers. While opportunities to engage with young people face-to-face, at events and in schools, were reduced in 2020 due to the pandemic, we adapted and found creative ways to engage young people: in the UK, our home-learning resources were accessed by just under 9,000 individuals and our virtual participation in the Big Bang Digital and WorldSkills events reached tens of thousands of students.
In the US, we continue to sponsor championship events with FIRST® Robotics, engaging young people in exciting, mentor‑based programmes that build STEM skills, inspire innovation and develop communication and leadership skills.