Guiding best practice among London councils

Young Apprenticeships are for students aged 14-16 and offer a blend of vocational qualifications and work placements.  Young people learn practical skills and develop knowledge required by employers, whilst studying for industry qualifications.

A Young Apprenticeship is completed during years 10 and 11 (key stage 4) of secondary education, alongside core curriculum subjects (english, maths, science).  They provide students with a taste of work, providing valuable experience and exposure at an early stage that can help young people make better education and career choices.

For employers, it offers exposure to young people in the workplace, the generation of new ideas and an opportunity to express CSR initiatives in action.

Despite increasing respect for apprenticeships, the Young Apprenticeship programme had under recruited.  Some boroughs had successfully introduced YAs and were leading the way, whereas others had not yet started the journey.

This campaign sought to boost recruitment by building capacity through local government in London’s 33 boroughs. Recent educational reforms had left many people confused as to the types of progression on offer (e.g. diplomas).  With often over-burdened staff and ever-reducing budgets, Young Apprenticeships are probably a relatively low level agenda item.

We focused on raising the profile and improving perceptions, whilst providing the understanding, tools and techniques to successfully offer young apprenticeships across London boroughs.

We followed our proven six step process:

In consultation with the project team, we:

  • Defined the current perceptions of YAs among our key target audiences:
    • Council Leaders and Directors of Children & Learners in local authorities;
    • Young people and their parents / carers
    • Employers
  • Developed the required messaging to stimulate interest, understanding and appreciation of the benefits
  • Defined measurement criteria for the campaign, including benchmarks

We talked to the target audiences in-depth in order to test and expand the above.  As part of this process we developed a shortlist of young apprentices, employers and local authorities willing to work with us on case study development.

We developed a marketing plan to close the gap between current and required perceptions.  It included:

  • Case study development
  • Production of a brief and compelling ‘manual’ for local authorities to make the process easy, from understanding how apprenticeships link to progression pathways, understanding the benefits and knowing how to develop opportunities within their borough
  • Production of promotional materials for young people and their parents/carers – and employers – for use across London, avoiding duplication and unnecessary cost
  • A pan-London microsite for digital resources

Creative development and testing
We produced two creative routes for the campaign look and feel, consistent with the national apprenticeships branding, that was compelling and enticing to all target audiences.

Visuals and messaging were tested with our target audiences, to ensure they resonated with everyone and achieved the desired effect. Employer brands were used to add weight to the offering.

Interviews with employers and young people generated compelling case studies. Meetings and interviews with colleges and councils generated proven best practice for the manual.

The project was completed within a five month timeframe and culminated in a stakeholder event to share the insight, tools and best practice. Key people identified during the analysis stage were invited to present.


  • The majority (65%) were advocates of the programme but of the 35% who weren’t, all but one said their perception had changed following the event
  • All but one respondent felt better equipped to advance their YA Programme as a result of the workshop
  • 3,670 pieces of collateral were ordered at the event, with subsequent orders thereafter, suggesting a need that was met
  •  Everyone (100%) agreed with key success factors recommended, following our consultation
  • Event feedback forms demonstrated resounding, positive feedback from all participants. Comments included:
    “Excellent all round”
    “Very interesting and insightful speakers”
    “I do not work on this programme significantly enough!”
    “Learnt lots more about YAs”

“Working with Liz was very easy. She quickly understood what we wanted from the project and understood the educational context in which we were working. The marketing materials that were produced were of high quality and were effective in engaging a number of different groups including employers, schools, young people and their parents.

The project delivered the results we wanted of higher exposure to the Young Apprenticeship project and better engagement from the groups indicated above.

We had a comparatively short timescale which was only achieved through Liz’s responsiveness to our concerns and queries and her commitment to getting the job done to the highest standard.”



  • Categories: Education
  • Client: Young People's Learning Alliance