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How to get your apprenticeship scheme noticed by school leavers

04 / 03 / 2019Fiona Doherty

Did you know only 8% of students plan to start an apprenticeship after they leave school?

Despite the introduction of the apprenticeship levy in 2017, it seems that apprenticeships aren’t a key consideration for school leavers. Employers have a responsibility to increase the number of apprenticeships undertaken in the UK, but how can you best engage school leavers? 

The 2018 School Study conducted by trendence UK questioned 16,133 school students about their future career aspirations when they leave school and what they know about apprenticeships. We report on some of the key findings below and suggest how to best get your apprenticeship scheme(s) noticed and applied to by school leavers. 

Reach out earlier

31% of school students made the decision to go to university at primary school age. This shows that at a young age, many school students contemplate the future and their career prospects. While it might not be appropriate to promote apprenticeship schemes to primary school students, it is important to consider the value of increasing awareness of your brand earlier than when they are near to leaving school. 

52% of the surveyed school students reported that they began collecting information about different employers and career areas in year 10 and 11, and less than 10% of students said they had decided on a career area before year 10. This is a crucial decision point when students are likely to be considering their career aspirations and accessing the type of qualifications and training they need to build a career in this area. This could mean going to university, but it could also mean considering apprenticeship schemes.

52% of school students preferred work experience or placement opportunities as at-school employer activities, while the second most popular option (48%) was visits to employer offices or open days. Working with local schools to offer work experience, placement opportunities or open days allows you to introduce your organisation to students and give them an idea of what it’s like to work at your company. For wider coverage, why not consider exhibiting at a school leaver event? Many companies, including TARGETcareers FUTUREWISE, offer employers opportunities to run workshops and sponsor events. 

Focus on the future and long-term benefits

While it is important to provide key facts, figures and information such as salary, working hours, apprenticeship structure and day-to-day tasks, school leavers really want to know how your apprenticeship will help them in the long term.
It was found that the most popular reason for school students choosing university was their belief that a university degree is the only path to a successful career. We know that isn’t true. As an employer offering apprenticeships, it is vital that you prove to young people that a successful career can also come from doing an apprenticeship. Talking about the skills they will learn and experience they will gain will make your apprenticeship seem like a very practical choice, and there is evidence that this can change young people’s minds.

77% of the surveyed school students would consider a non-university route instead, if offered the right incentives. The strongest incentive was the assurance that their long-term career prospects would not be impacted by the decision to choose an alternative to university. This strengthens the argument that you need to demonstrate the long-term value of your apprenticeship and emphasise the key skills and experience that will help your apprentices reach their long-term career goals.

Engage with parents

Another discovery from the School Study was that over 50% of students reported their parents or family as having the most influence when deciding on attending university. On those grounds, it is wise to direct a portion of your information toward parents as they are likely to be a key player in the decision-making process.  

This can be in the form of information packs, having an area of your website dedicated to parents, or having delegates available at events and fairs to discuss the apprenticeship route with parents. Some events such as The National Apprenticeship Show have an evening session dedicated for parents, which is an ideal time for you to engage with them further.

Acknowledge that parents will want their child to choose the best career path for them, so they need all the right information in order to help them make an informed choice. Don’t give them a false picture of the apprenticeship; be honest, give the facts and establish exactly what kind of person you’re looking for and where exactly the apprenticeship is likely to take them.  

Understand that parents might not be aware of what a sponsored degree or a higher apprenticeship is, so be clear on what you are offering, how it works, and what the outcome will be. 

The more that parents know about your apprenticeship options, the more likely that their children will know about them too.

Be social media savvy

Engaging with young people involves understanding what they care about and the platforms they most commonly use. According to a report by the Education Policy Institute (EPI), more than one in three 15-year-olds in Britain are ‘extreme internet users’, meaning that they spend at least six hours a day online.

It is therefore crucial that your company has a strong online presence. Make sure that your website has an area aimed at school leavers, dedicated to answering all their questions and providing insight into your apprenticeship scheme. 

A strong online presence should also extend to social media, given that 94% of pupils aged 15 used social media before or after school (the OECD PISA Wellbeing Report, 2015). 

Instagram and Snapchat are highly interactive, fun and increasingly becoming the primary social media platforms for teenagers, so why not get involved? 

Social media ‘takeovers’ are a great way of showcasing what an apprenticeship involves at your company. Get current apprentices involved in the posts by photo-journaling a typical day – peer-to-peer influence will make your social media a lot more exciting and accessible for school leavers. Encourage students to follow you by holding competitions and broadcasting content that will interest them and create an affinity for your company and brand.

At TARGETcareers FUTUREWISE, we facilitate unprecedented opportunities to engage with school leavers actively seeking career options.

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