How to maximise awareness of your apprenticeship opportunities to local 16-19 year olds
Converting prospects into apprentices.
The colleges sector has been slow to respond to the government's apprenticeship drive, with colleges currently spending an average of 27% of their budget on apprenticeships.
The government’s drive to deliver 3 million apprenticeships by 2020 will grant access to a wide pool of prospective students. Yet despite the growing pool of prospects for colleges, the biggest challenge remains in targeting the students at their own doorstep.
Currently, awareness of the abundance of forthcoming apprenticeship opportunities has not filtered down to young people, so colleges are tasked with convincing young people of the merits of an apprenticeship and getting people enrolled on to courses.
With this challenge in mind, here are TheBigChoice.com’s top tips for driving awareness of your college’s apprenticeship opportunities:
Giving prospects the grand tour
Open days are the cornerstone of a college’s recruitment strategy and an opportunity to show your institution’s best side to interested students. While open days are primarily informative in nature, this doesn’t mean that they can’t be entertaining – and they should be!
Careers and course discussions can take place in a casual and leisurely atmosphere, alongside activities that showcase your college’s fun side and help build your brand. While the suitability of an apprenticeship course will form a fundamental part of a prospect's decision-making process, college culture and brand image may prove to be the deciding factor between your college and a rival's.
Importantly, you need to make sure that you fully integrate your apprenticeship offerings into your open days and show off their value to prospects. If you don’t show that you consider apprenticeships an equal alternative to traditional education and career routes, how can you expect young people to see their value?
Putting your online house in order
With your prospects living in the local area it can be easy to think of your website as the icing on your student recruitment cake. But with young people increasingly using the internet as their primary research tool, your website must become a central part of the process.
It may be intuitive, but you need to ensure that prospective students can find you online. This means employing a solid, consistent SEO strategy that ensures your company appears on the front page of Google for relevant search terms. For colleges, this could include:
- Searches for colleges in your local area (e.g. Bedfordshire colleges)
- Searches for specific courses in your area
- Enquiries for local apprenticeship opportunities
Ensuring that your website addresses the questions that prospects are researching and provides relevant information will naturally boost your SEO ranking without the need to resort to artificial SEO methods - which can actually harm your ranking in the long term!
To reap the benefits of a polished, high-ranking college website, you need to ensure your online information is kept up to date each term. Colleges should ensure that relevant course information, opportunities and application processes are posted in a timely manner to ensure that website visits are being converted into enquiries.
Delivering your message
Email marketing is a powerful yet overlooked tool in the FE arsenal. A well-placed email is an effective way of reaching out to new prospects and keeping existing prospects engaged with your college, driving awareness of new apprenticeship courses and boosting attendance to your open days. Types of email content might include:
- Open day announcements
- Careers newsletters
- Enrolment offers
- Case studies
- Key enrolment dates and deadlines
Where possible, colleges should make use of the email addresses acquired by sign up forms as the basis for their contact lists. If you are looking to target young people with little or no awareness of your college and the opportunities available, you can expand your reach outside of your existing email network, but you will need to ensure you are still targeting relevant people. Over the course of an email campaign, you will need to make sure that you are proactively removing uninterested people from your contact lists to preserve your reputation as a sender.
Social media is an increasingly essential part of a college’s marketing mix.
Your social media channels are important community building tools that can be used to foster relationships with existing students and show off the day to day camaraderie of college life to interested prospects.
Each network can act as an additional communication channel, allowing admissions staff to interact with prospects and answer any questions that they may have. If you want to use your social media to attract prospective students you need to ensure that your channels add value. For colleges, adding value can include:
- Providing careers and education resources
- Offering guidance and insights
- Acting as a backchannel for your enquiries and issues
- Breaking relevant news down from the student perspective.
If we’ve piqued your interest, more social media tips can be found here.