Original Research

An evaluation of an apprentice selection process

Juliet I. Puchert, Roelf van Niekerk, Kim Viljoen
Acta Commercii | Vol 22, No 1 | a987 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ac.v22i1.987 | © 2022 Juliet I. Puchert, Roelf van Niekerk, Kim Viljoen | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 17 November 2021 | Published: 15 June 2022

About the author(s)

Juliet I. Puchert, Department of Business Management, Faculty of Management and Commerce, University of Fort Hare, East London, South Africa
Roelf van Niekerk, Department of Industrial and Organisational Psychology, Faculty of Business and Economic Sciences, Nelson Mandela University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa
Kim Viljoen, Department of Business Management, Faculty of Management and Commerce, University of Fort Hare, East London, South Africa


Orientation: The artisan job family is the number one area of concern with regard to filling vacancies both nationally and globally. Hence, artisanship has been identified as a scarce and critical skill. The domestic economy and the effectiveness and success of many organisations could be strengthened if the artisanal crisis is adequately addressed.

Research purpose: This article proposes a screening process for organisations to use during the selection of apprentices. The selection process has four phases: application review, rating of application documentation, aptitude testing and skills-based teamwork assessment, and interviews. The effect of the selection phases on the survival of the applicants was investigated.

Motivation for the study: This study adds to the limited body of literature on artisans, apprentices and the selection of individuals for these technical positions. In addition, it provides recommendations to optimise the selection process for this job family.

Research design, approach and method: Large amounts of archived data from an annual apprentice selection process at a large multinational automotive firm were accessed. A quantitative measure, survival analysis, was used to assess whether the survival curves were statistically different across the groups.

Main findings: The four selection phases had a significant effect on the survival time of the applicants in the selection process. The significance of the Gehan–Wilcoxon statistic suggests that the survival distribution across the applicants was not because of chance but rather indicates a true difference in the data. The constructs assessed at each phase had a significant effect on the selection success of the apprentice applicants. The termination rate of applicants was steady across all four selection phases.

Practical/managerial implications: The multiple-hurdle selection process employed in this study should be replicated and employed as the national selection tool for apprentices. The use of standardised application documentation is recommended, and job preparation workshops should be provided to assist apprentice applicants.

Contribution/value-add: The findings of this study are relevant to the South African automotive industry, as well as the manufacturing sector. The findings are also of value to human resource practitioners, educators, social scientists, and industrial and organisational psychologists.


apprentice; artisan; human resource; selection; selection process; staffing


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