Written by Milly Edgerley • Published 18th January 2016
Five top tips to effectively publicise your Apprenticeship scheme
One buzz word in business over the past two years has been “apprenticeships” – and there is nothing to suggest the focus is about to diminish.
Businesses across a variety of sectors in the UK are increasingly turning their attention to investing in the next generation as the benefits of apprenticeships continue to grow. It’s widely known that apprenticeships help develop a qualified and skilled workforce; enabling businesses to secure a pipeline of talent and create a CSR strategy this is attractive to stakeholders and target audiences alike.
One key development, the so-called Government apprenticeship levy, has divided opinion and sparked further debate.
How will the desire for a further three million places by 2020 affect businesses’ balance sheets and will it increase or diminish the quality of skills among young people in the job market? Indeed, how will it help position the UK against the rest of the world?
In the process of running an award-winning national apprenticeships PR campaign, we discovered several incredible initiatives in the apprenticeship and young people’s training space among companies large and small. The key challenge for companies wishing to add to the debate in in 2016 is – how can my business’ apprenticeship scheme stand out against the grain?
As with every CSR strategy, it’s important to have a clear communication plan in place to leverage business’ apprenticeship schemes and ensure it resonates with key audiences.
- Engage with your target audience through the media
- Devise community activities and invite the press
Engage with regional press
This is essential in sourcing talent in specific areas. The community local to your business will offer a great pipeline of talent and by recruiting apprentices from that region; your business is helping grow the community both from an economic and a skills perspective.
Work within the local community
This can build relationships that allow your business’ reputation to flourish within the region thus contributing to your long term development plan. This might be through the means of working with the local schools to host an open day where students can have a tour of your business and understand how operations work.
You might hold practical sessions to allow students to get a flavour of what an apprenticeship with your company would entail or you might send some existing apprentices into the local schools to talk about their experiences with your company so far. Whichever activities you do or are already doing, consider inviting the press along to document it. Open days and practical sessions will provide a great story with images and offer that all important platform for building your business’ reputation within the community.
- Identify a spokesperson who relates well to the cause
As with any PR campaign, it is useful to have a face that your audience can relate to and identify the brand with whilst publicising your apprenticeship scheme. This person might be your Managing Director, HR Director or even an apprentice alumnus but whoever it is should be able to relate to apprenticeships.
Having a spokesperson that was once an apprentice themselves speaks volumes about how your company values earn and learn training schemes and puts them at the forefront of your business. If you aren’t able to do this, ensure that your spokesperson is a strong advocate for apprenticeships and truly believes in the value of them.
Most importantly, make sure your spokesperson is fully media trained. You want young people to aspire to be part of your business and encourage stakeholders to recognise the good your business is doing and a professional but natural spokesperson can help you achieve this. A spokesperson that speaks corporate jargon and alludes towards the benefits for the business in hiring apprentices will not be well received amongst young people, stakeholders and/ or the media.
- Use events in the calendar to raise the profile of your scheme
Events such as National Apprenticeship Week which usually takes place each March, are a fantastic celebration of apprenticeships and a good opportunity for your business to showcase its quality apprenticeship scheme.
By devising a media strategy a month or so in advance, you can easily plan how you are going to make your business stand out amongst other businesses doing the same. You may want to do an apprentice challenge to celebrate the event and in which case you should think visually and again, invite the press document it.
Alternatively, touch base with media outlets a couple weeks before the event to let them know you have a spokesperson available to comment should they be covering National Apprenticeship Week. This will offer good exposure for your apprenticeship scheme and you may find that your spokesperson becomes the mouthpiece for the whole of the apprenticeship market place for one day!
5: Show your passion
This in some ways circles back to the choosing of a good spokesman. As with any CSR initiative, if there is no genuine passion behind it, or a perceived lack of passion, then the public can switch off.
The media has the same yardstick – if the people telling the stories about their own companies can’t do so with belief and enthusiasm, then why should they bother?
It’s important then, to convey the belief you have in your investment in young people to the wider world.