What are the most important times of the year?

  • Emma Finamore
  • 27 June 2019

Apprentice employers must inform the right people about their programmes, but exactly when they do this can make a big difference. Here we show what time of year employers should target the key groups vital in attracting school leavers to their schemes.

There are so many different groups to engage with when promoting apprenticeship programmes—and so many different ways to do this—that it’s easy to overlook when exactly this engagement should happen. Our focused research, however, shows there are specific times of year when the various key groups are most open to engagement - times when employers can optimise the chances of effective interactions.

The facts

AllAboutSchoolLeaver’s research shows that when companies promote their apprenticeship programmes could be just as important as how they do it and where. There are different key times for each different key group that recruiters need to reach: school leavers, careers advisers, teachers and parents.

1. School Leavers

Students are most likely to research their options either in September or January. School leavers say that January is the most likely time of year they will make career decisions, with 18% of the vote, followed by September with 14%.

In Year 10 and Year 12, students say they want to receive careers advice in June. This is when the curriculum is almost complete, exams are over and these year groups are being made aware of opportunities available to them a year ahead of when they leave school or college.

November is the least likely time of year for school leavers to make decisions about careers, with just 3% of young people saying that’s when they will decide what to do after school.

2. Career Advisers

That doesn’t necessarily mean that’s when careers advisers will provide them with information though. Careers advisers are most likely to actively provide advice in October, November, March and February respectively.

This also changes when looking at specific year groups. During years in which exams carry a huge focus—Year 11 and Year 13—around 80% of careers advice is likely to be provided from September to December.

For these year groups, mock exams are likely to occur in January or February and the Easter Holidays—coupled with half-terms and study leave prior to GCSE and A-level exams in May and June—which means providing careers advice in September to December is perhaps the only time where it can exist alongside the curriculum.

However, the story is different for students in years where they do not have exams. September to December is not as popular for Year 7 (14%), Year 8 (13%), Year 9 (5%), Year 10 (27%) and Year 12 (24%).

Despite these differences in school age groups, careers advisers say they want to hear from employers all year round. Nearly three quarters of careers advisers say it does not matter when employers contact them in term time to get in touch with offering your events and resources.

3. Teachers

Classroom teachers also provide students with advice, as well as careers advisers, albeit on a more informal basis. Over a quarter of teachers are asked about careers advice most days, and almost 63% are asked a few times a month (or more frequently).

Only around 5% claim they are never asked about careers advice from students.

4. Parents

Parents think January is the most important month for their children to make career decisions, with 38% saying it is the most important time of year.

September is not considered as important a month by parents as it is by school leavers.

What can employers do?

Employers wanting to promote their apprenticeship programmes to these key groups should consider what times they are most receptive to engagement and information, and plan engagement strategies around these schedules.

When it comes to school leavers, employers should ensure websites are updated with easy to find, useful, engaging and accurate information before the months when they know students (maybe of specific year groups) are likely to be researching options for themselves.

Employers could even align their social media awareness campaigns with these times of year, and/or the opening of their programme application processes with these months.

Even though they are open to engagement all year round, employers could focus their energy on careers advisers during October, November, March and February—when they are most likely to actively provide advice in.

When it comes to programmes aimed at those leaving Year 11 or 13, employers could engage with careers advisers teaching those age groups in the run-up to or during September, as careers advice is likely to be provided from September to December.

Teachers will need a steady stream of information as they are asked about careers every month, but to stay at the forefront of their minds employers could try and build up proper relationships with them and even target those who teach subjects that relate to their programmes.

To reach parents, employers could target information and engagement towards them in January – when they think their children should be thinking about career options. Employers could also find out when parents’ evenings are held at schools and engage with teachers in the run-up to these events, so their programmes will be in their minds when asked for advice by parents.

For deeper details on how to reach specific groups, read our other insight articles on how to engage with parents, schools and school leavers.

Top insights

Students are most likely to research their options either in September or January.

Careers advisers are most likely to actively provide advice in October, November, March and February.

During years in which exams carry a huge focus—Year 11 and Year 13—around 80% of careers advice is likely to be provided from September to December.

Over a quarter of teachers are asked about careers advice most days, and almost 63% are asked a few times a month (or more frequently).

Parents think January is the most important month for their children to make career decisions.


Photo by Dylan Gillis on Unsplash