Apprenticeships advert: It’s emotive. But will it work?

The Department for Education has unveiled its first advertising campaign with M&C Saatchi to attract young people into apprenticeships. Here Sophie Proctor, who joined RB as an apprentice in 2015 and is now a media executive, looks at why this route can benefit those who want to get hands on.


Apprenticeships have long suffered from an image problem.

Many people associate them with low wages, manual jobs or as the “second choice” to university.

This might explain a little bit about why the number of people entering apprenticeship schemes dropped by 34% last year – with just 290,500 individuals accepting a placement.

And it also clarifies why the DfE has launched an integrated communications campaign to raise the profile of training programs among both businesses and job seekers.

The result is the ‘Fire It Up‘ campaign and with it, a film which follows a group of young adults as they rise early and set off to their respective apprenticeships.

As the youths get themselves ready, sparks of electricity channels through them, symbolising their energy, passion and spirit.

It’s emotive. But will it work?

Well I think if I had seen this advert back in 2015 it might have encouraged me to explore this route to a certain degree.

After all, back then – and even now – there was such a massive emphasis placed on attending university that apprenticeships were heavily overlooked and perhaps not encouraged enough in school sixth forms.

To see an advertising campaign like this is reassuring to someone considering learning on the job – it gives it some gravitas, sparks curiosity and makes it seem more exciting.

Having said that, I’m not entirely sure the advert is realistic in its depiction of apprenticeships and what they involve.

It is not just a job. It’s about continuing your education too. And its hard work.

This film flicks though close-up shots of the apprentices’ faces with the words “We’re not like everyone else… we’re ready now” flashing across the screen.

Its designed to be cool, inspiring and different but not all apprenticeships are in airline hangers or recording studios (both depicted in the advert).

You can also access careers which are deemed fairly “normal” such as plumbing, engineering, accountancy and PR.

Additionally, there is a preconception that apprenticeships are only available in jobs where the normal route is not academic.

This isn’t true. The job I do now involved me working towards a qualification. It’s also a job you can access through different channels – on the job learning or university.

I think the DfE needs to try to show some of the more typical apprenticeship roles that are out there but in a creative way so they look appealing.

Of course, I still believe this campaign is a huge step in the right direction.

Apprentices are hardworking, keen and eager individuals who want to work. Businesses need to understand their value and young people need to see them as a viable option.

There are many industries and big companies that are already benefiting from the injection of fresh talent and for people like me, apprenticeships are providing a wonderful opportunity to take that first step on a career ladder where you will be nurtured, encouraged and supported from the bottom up.