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Temple Quarter - Recruit Differently

Temple Quarter – Recruit differently new partnership is already creating opportunities for Bristol residents by encouraging local business to ‘recruit differently’.

A new partnership between University of Bristol and the Western Training Provider Network will create new jobs for Bristol residents and help support growing local small businesses.

Leading a consortium of local employers and community partners, Recruit Differently - Temple Quarter is a new initiative will see the development of employment and training opportunities for those living in communities in and around central Bristol.

L0cal employers will be supported in how to ‘recruit differently’, address skills gaps and build a more resilient workforce through creating inspiring new apprenticeship opportunities. Businesses will receive free expert advice and consultancy in how to adopt a more strategic approach to workforce planning and deliver more inclusive ways to attract and retain a more diverse workforce.

Inspired by the University’s Temple Quarter Enterprise Campus, itself designed to empower transformed relationships with businesses, communities and the city region, the project will incentivise and encourage employers to offer high-quality, apprenticeships whilst helping local residents access and secure these exciting new opportunities.

In August 2022, the CIPD reported that too many employers – particularly SMEs – are not aware of their skills gaps, so don’t take action to invest in the skills they need. It highlights how locally-led high-quality business and people management support has the potential to help increase productivity and skills investment over time – a central drive of the Recruit Differently programme.

Whilst more larger employers are offering apprenticeship opportunities in renewed efforts to tackle skills shortages – as reported by the CIPD in August 2022 – there has been a marked decrease in the number of small businesses hiring apprentices in recent years. The FSB in August 2022 found that only 16 per cent of small business employers are currently looking to hire an apprentice to overcome recruitment challenges; with difficulties in hiring staff reported by 4 in 5 firms.

This innovative project enables small businesses to benefit from ‘Apprenticeship Levy’ funded shared by larger employers. The CIPD found that nearly one-third of business leaders did not know about their business’s eligibility for Apprenticeship Levy, a government-led approach designed to promote apprenticeship uptake. Based on a similar programme across the West of England, programme leaders WTPN have in the last two years alone helped create over 200 apprenticeships having leveraged an impressive

£2m apprenticeship investment in Apprenticeship Levy funds in partnership with the West of England Combined Authority. This ensures that business levies ringfenced exclusively for apprenticeship growth remain in the region.

The project has already kicked off with the creation of a steering group made up of the WTPN, local Ashley Ward councillor Amirah Cole, UOB and Engine Shed representative Mike Paton, UOB Apprenticeship and Community Champion Rebecca Scott MBE and UOB Temple Quarter representative Jessica Sharratt.

An awareness launch for businesses and stakeholders also took place at the Bristol Tech Fest 2022, a key event for the tech community, already established in the Temple Quarter area. From this event alone, the project has created interest amongst tech employers who are now engaging with the WTPN’s free SME impartial apprenticeship consultancy and support service.

Along with SME’s interested in Apprenticeships the event also tested the lines of communication and awareness being created by the project which links to the local community.

Lloyds bank approached the WTPN team at the event with 5 digital marketing internships (that included free industry leading qualifications as part of the package), for post 18 students they hoped to connect with the local BAME community. Connections were made, opportunities advertised locally, and a huge amount of interest was generated.

Sonia Browne Inclusion and diversity manager from Lloyds bank reported back:

The response to the 5 available roles was immense. Whilst we used other channels for potential candidates we attracted 158 applicants, amazing.

75% of our shortlisted candidates were from the BAME community. 4 out of the 5 candidates that were offered the roles are from the BAME community. This was made possible by attracting BAME applicants at the front end of the process.

Our plan is to continue to build our relationship so we can continue to present opportunities to the community.


Unlike other business support projects, Recruit Differently: Temple Quarter provides an integrated support package for businesses and residents alike bringing together large employers, small business, higher and further education partners and training providers with – critically – community partners and local residents. Recognising the persistent challenges in the jobs market and growing cost-of-living crisis, the programme creates new local apprenticeship opportunities – jobs with training – designed to support local business whilst providing excellent, career routes and progression for Bristol residents.

Misconceptions around apprenticeships that exist are still influencing career planning. A recent (July 2022) survey of more than 1,000 people across England found that more than half (51%) of people aged between 18-24 still believe that a university degree makes you more likely to earn a high salary than doing an apprenticeship. The research from accountancy and business advisory firm, BDO also found that almost half (49%) believe that apprenticeships are better suited to those who don’t get high enough grades to go to university.

The WTPN and University of Bristol seek to maximise opportunities for all local young people and adults offering multiple routes to high quality learning and skilled employment.

The WTPN has been working across the region for several years growing apprenticeship opportunities and awareness amongst local employers and local people. In the 2021/22 academic year alone, they inspired over 16,000 students, over 2,500 parents and carers and more than 120 teachers.

As Recruit Differently scales up, small business in and around the Temple Quarter area and larger employers within the region with a connection to the area are invited to get involved. From sharing Apprenticeship Levy funds and creating apprenticeships to making a positive different to local communities, small business owners and HR leads are encouraged to contact the team on to express an interest or find out more

Alex Richards, WTPN Director, said:

“We’re delighted to be working with the University of Bristol and other local partners to deliver this exciting and impactful initiative. We’re calling on local businesses in and around Temple Quarter and central Bristol to get involved in a placed based scheme to recruit differently, discover great candidates, enjoy the many benefits that Apprenticeships can offer and connect to local communities”.

To find out more about the project please visit our webpage here


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