Facebook to attract more apprentices to Network Rail

Network Rail is exclusively using a new Facebook campaign to recruit 200 people for its three year advanced apprenticeship scheme. The campaign has current apprentices at its heart - would-be applicants can ask questions and receive a direct answer from someone who is already on the scheme. It is also using Facebook to attract more than a million women to the site with targeted advertising. Last year nearly 8,000 people registered interest in the scheme - but only 3.2% were women.

The advertising - which draws on research to understand what’s important to young women, including valuable qualifications and good career prospects as well as earning whilst learning - will appear on more than a million female Facebook users’ pages aged 16-25, who have shown an interest in engineering, apprenticeships, rail, careers, or are studying for their GCSE and A-levels.

At the start of national apprenticeship week, people can apply via a new Facebook page www.facebook.com/ontrack with videos, profiles and useful information about the scheme.

Commenting on the new campaign, Network Rail’s head of digital marketing Greg Taylor said: “Our apprentice scheme grows in popularity each year but we want to make sure we are attracting the very best talent. By exclusively using Facebook we’re able to target specific groups which we have previously struggled to attract, including young women interested in engineering.

“Facebook is the biggest social network for young people, so it makes sense for us to use it. The ability to connect with people by age, sex, geographic location and interests, mixed with the truly interactive and open dialogue offered by the platform means we can really get across the benefits and challenges of the scheme.”

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“The page has been running for a week or so ahead of us accepting applications and the number of people interested is really positive. We hope it will boost the number of quality applications we get from both men and women. In the long run getting the best people will make our business stronger, more successful and better value for the British public.”

James Elfer, client partner at Work Communications said: “We’ve been working closely with Network Rail to encourage more women to join the apprenticeship scheme, so it was great to hear how positive the current apprentices felt about their future. By using Facebook we’ve been able to provide them with a familiar platform to tell their stories to a huge audience, and answer any questions in real time. The response has been fantastic.”

A focus group with women on the Network Rail scheme revealed that recognised qualifications and the opportunity for further training and development were one of the main reasons they were attracted to joining the company.

Official figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency show that women get better grades at university than men with 66% achieving a first or 2:1 compared to 60% of men. However only 15% of people taking engineering or technology undergraduate degrees are women.