Are you focused on Valentine’s Day or apprenticeships this week? In case it had passed you by in the all-pervasive wash of hearts and flowers, I’ll just point out that this is Apprenticeship Week here in the UK, and apprenticeships are back in fashion.
Providing apprenticeships is a great way of demonstrating social responsibility in action, by providing training for the young, the future workforce. A few companies explicitly draw this connection out, such as Mulberry and Rydon, who do so on their corporate websites, and Asos, where the Head of Corporate Responsibility commented in a press release on their new apprenticeship programmes.
With reportedly 280,000 Britons joining apprenticeship schemes last year, and another 100,000 places anticipated over the next three years, I thought I’d see how well this was typically conveyed on the corporate website, starting with those of companies reported in the press to be increasing their apprenticeship options this year.
I looked at a range of corporate websites, including several of those identified in the news as providing apprenticeships; disappointingly, some didn’t capitalise on the publicity by providing information about apprentices on their site, still less on the home page.
I also did a Google search to see what came up in the UK if I searched for ‘apprenticeships’. The top result (at least for me) was to the Apprenticeships site, a helpful site covering apprenticeships in general. The first corporate to come up was BT.
The Google result was for BT’s corporate site, but in fact this is a single page, leading to a separate dedicated minisite about apprenticeships, BT4Me. This site has a very different design style to the main corporate site, as such recruitment-minisites often do, and includes video diaries and other films. Unusually, this site leads to a Facebook page for BT Apprenticeships: a good place to promote apprenticeships.
A very different approach is taken by BAE Systems, which headlines Apprentice Week on its home page (they’re training over 1,000 apprentices in the UK), and the link on the hero image goes to a dedicated multi-page section within the corporate site.
This section contains an extensive range of content, from a foreword from a senior member of staff and details of the apprentice programmes, to profiles of apprentices, benefits and how to apply. It’s well done, and mirrors the quality and quantity of material usually assigned to a graduate section, with strong impact. BAE Systems clearly take the apprenticeship option seriously.
Jaguar Land Rover (also focusing heavily on apprentices) has a separate careers site, with a dedicated Apprentice section within that site, with videos about the apprenticeships and lots of information about the programmes, benefits and application process, including hints and tips and FAQ explicitly for apprentices. Here the design of the apprentice section mirrors that of the site as a whole (unlike the BT minisite), so looks more corporate. Look out for the video filter, which means the visitor can identify the apprentice videos out of the entire set of careers videos: a neat little extra.
The Tata Steel (UK) website has a dedicated apprenticeship section within the corporate site, with the same type of explanatory information about the programmes, benefits and so on – but also has some older employee profiles, not just recent apprentices, showing the career progression for those individuals after their apprenticeship, which could be reassuring to prospective employees.
Rolls-Royce have a dedicated section too, on the corporate site, at the same level of hierarchy as graduate programmes and general careers. The landing page for this section includes a persuasive quote from an apprentice, explaining the benefits of an apprenticeship over university study. An extensive range of programmes are explained, along with details of benefits, profiles of apprentices and video diaries, and details of how to apply. Most apprenticeships seem to be in the technical industries: this was the first site I looked at where business and finance apprenticeships were offered.
Of course, it isn’t all technical apprenticeships: McDonalds (UK site) has an apprentice section – and I expect that if you’re UK based, you’ll have seen adverts for the McDonalds training. And just below BT on my Google search results page was the NHS, offering a range of health-care, hospitality and catering apprenticeships. Tesco offers apprenticeships in retail. And of course there are apprenticeships in many other fields of work – including new media.
In summary, I’d say that if you are offering apprenticeships, these should be given the same weight as any other type of candidate in your corporate careers section – and certainly, it should be possible to find some information about them, and the more the better. These sites listed here all have good ideas about how to attract potential apprentices, and what information they need to provide.
But the site of the week award has to go to BAESystems, for including a link from their home page in this, Apprentice Week.