How to engage with key apprentice groups: schools

  • Emma Finamore
  • 15 February 2019

There are specific people employers should connect with to promote their apprenticeship opportunities, and specific ways of reaching them. We reveal how to effectively engage with schools.

It’s easy to think that the most effective way of promoting apprenticeship programmes is by connecting directly with school leavers, but engaging with school staff is equally important.


They have a big impact on the post-school decisions young people make. We think that employers who engage with them, as well as with school leavers, will generate more interest in their programmes and see a rise in applications.


The facts


Classroom teachers provide students with careers advice, despite not being trained specifically to do so, and it’s a seriously frequent occurrence. Over a quarter of teachers are asked about careers advice from students on most days. Teachers are second only to parents when it comes to both helping young people make their career decisions and having the most influence on these decisions.


Despite being approached by both students and parents (during events like parents’ evenings), subject teachers display a knowledge gap when it comes to school-leaver options. While nearly all of them (97%) know about university options, less than half are aware of apprenticeships, school-leaver programmes and work-shadowing schemes.


Teachers also want to be better informed: over 80% of them say that they wish they knew more about options for their pupils.


Careers advisers remain a key part of the overall picture when it comes to promoting apprenticeship programmes within schools. In terms of their knowledge around apprenticeships, our research shows careers advisers have high levels of understanding.


So this group is keenly aware of and receptive to information about apprenticeship programmes—and they want to hear from employers, all year round. This engagement from employers is also a statutory obligation: it forms part of the Gatsby Benchmarks (Number 5: ‘Encounters with employers and employees’), which were recently endorsed by central government when they were included as a central part of the Education Strategy 2018.


Nearly three quarters of careers advisers told us that it doesn’t matter when you contact them in term time to get in touch with offering your events and resources. Almost half of parents say they want to use, and already use, meetings with careers advisers and teachers to find information—as the most influential group on school leavers, employers should make the most of this indirect way of engaging with parents.


How can you engage?


Over 95% of careers advisers use careers websites to stay aware of all their students’ options, so if you want to connect with this key group definitely consider using careers sites to do so.


Receiving emails/newsletters from useful resources is also very popular, with 95% of careers advisers using this to stay aware of their students’ options. Recruiters advertising their programmes on websites that also offer a mail-out service would ensure a high number of careers advisers are exposed to the information.


However, there’s still room for face-to-face engagement: 88.4% of careers advisers stay up-to-date by attending events. The main factor to be aware of when it comes to engaging with careers advisers and their students face-to-face is that few schools have large budgets—in fact, most have very little to spend.


The average budget per pupil with regard to careers information, advice and guidance, according to our research, is just under £6. Therefore, external careers services offered to schools need to be done so at an absolute minimum charge or for free. A day visit to an employer's office will cost a school in transportation and other associated costs such as lunch. This means it’s worth considering arranging to visit schools rather than inviting pupils to workplace-engagement events.


Print media is still important to careers advisers too—more so than with school leavers themselves or their parents—so if employers with limited budgets are going to promote apprenticeship programmes this way, it’s worth focusing on materials directed at this specific group.


If an employer wants to make sure they’re the ones to inform teachers about apprenticeships—and they should, as teachers have the ear of both young people and their parents—they need to engage with them efficiently. Print products such as the AllAboutSchoolLeavers annual Teacher’s Guide—sent to schools and aimed specifically at teachers—can demonstrate how particular apprenticeships relate to school subjects, for example.


We know from our research that school leavers say January is the most likely time of year to start exploring career decisions (and therefore is probably a popular month for asking subject teachers about options), followed by September. If employers are sending promotional material to teachers and engaging in careers activities with schools, they should bear in mind what time of year pupils are most receptive to information about apprenticeship programmes.


For more detailed research on schools and the methods employers should consider when reaching out to them, visit the AllAboutResearch research hub.


Top Insights


  • Over a quarter of teachers are asked about careers advice from students on most days.
  • Teachers are second only to parents when it comes to helping young people make their career decisions and having the most influence on what those decisions are.
  • Over 80% of teachers wish they knew more about options for their pupils.
  • Careers advisers want to hear from employers, all year round.
  • Over 95% of careers advisers use careers websites to stay up-to-date on all their students’ options.
  • 88.4% of careers advisers stay up-to-date by attending events.
  • Print products are important to careers advisers, for use in school.