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Published on Thursday, April 18, 2019


Apprenticeships: Putting pupils in the picture

With pupils having recently returned to school for what will be their last term of the year, so apprenticeship providers enter into what can be the busiest time in their marketing and promotional calendar. This term spells GCSEs (with all the stress they entail) and, for many, the last few weeks of full time classroom-based learning.

Harangued as these pressured year 11s will be with revision, the fact remains that they are a key target for apprenticeship messaging. Awareness levels of apprenticeships as a post GCSE option have risen thanks to measures such as the inclusion of the Baker Clause in the Technical and Further Education Act 2017. This stipulates that schools must allow providers access to pupils to inform them about apprenticeships and other vocational options. Despite this, there is still much misunderstanding around what constitutes an apprenticeship and how to get on one. Apprenticeship providers have a leading role to play in informing young people about their options. And this is no more critical than for current year 11s.  

For optimum success, the most effective way of communicating with these young people is to tailor messaging, activity and timing depending on what category they fall into. These categories include:

Year 11s who will not be progressing into 6th form

In an ideal world, apprenticeship providers will already be working with schools and with their help will have already identified pupils who will not be progressing into their school’s 6th form, providing them with clear guidance on apprenticeships. In reality, this may not be happening. Time is now of the essence so providers can be making last minute offers to schools to come and speak to these pupils about apprenticeships. Those who adopt a two-pronged approach – targeting them via schools, but also directly via social media, particularly Instagram and Snapchat – will have greater success getting information to this key cohort. Messaging should be tailored to resonate with individuals in this category e.g.:

Not staying on in 6th form? Did you know you can continue learning in the workplace if you do an apprenticeship? The focus is more on developing practical skills and you get to practice on the job.

It’s worth holding information sessions targeting these pupils ideally in collaboration with schools. You may want to try and attract any young people who are currently disengaged from all education, training and work to attend also.

Year 11s who are predicted to do well at GCSE and might consider an apprenticeship

This is a small but growing group of young people who are academic but given the right information, may prefer the apprenticeship route rather than continuing onto A-levels. This is due to the promise of employment as more employers turn to apprenticeships as a way of recruiting and developing talent in their companies. Targeting this niche of young people directly is likely to work best, promoting actual current vacancies with decent employers, and using case studies of school leavers who have chosen apprenticeships over 6th form despite achieving good GCSE grades. These young people are likely to be proactive, so if they have chosen to do an apprenticeship, they’ve probably done their research. However, it’s always worth considering this niche segment when planning your campaigns and messaging.

Year 11s who are predicted to do well at GCSE but don’t

There will always be disappointment around GCSE results day in August. A proportion of GCSE candidates will have not gained the grades they need to progress into 6th form. It’s important that these individuals are already aware that apprenticeships are available as a fall-back position even if their first choice was to progress to A-levels. Whilst targeted social media campaigns in the run up to GCSE results day will prove invaluable, providers might want to consider an old-fashioned messaging vehicle such as the Liverpool Echo Thursday jobs section. GCSE results day 2019 is the 22nd August. An advert detailing all your current apprenticeship vacancies with a call to action placed on this day could produce a significant return on investment. Not least as parents are likely to be scouring the jobs section on behalf of their teens.

School leavers and young people in general are an elusive market, and it’s important to develop precise messaging if your voice is to stand out in the promotional maelstrom that continually buffets them. Remember particularly, the importance of a clear call-to-action and having an efficient enquiry handling process, including fast response times and competent, knowledgeable staff dealing with enquiries.

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