Eleven young people from the West Midlands are blazing a trail as social media marketing apprentices with the launch of a new training scheme.
The school leavers, nine from the Cannock area, one from Pelsall, and another from Wolverhampton, are the first to sign up for a brand new management course, where blogging for business, Facebook and Twitter are key elements.
Training specialists SSC Learning, who are based at Keys Business Village in Hednesford, have taken on the teenagers, aged between 16 and 19, who will be employed by local businesses to handle their digital marketing, with social media training provided by Bridgtown-based Passionate Media.
The apprenticeship scheme was launched at a networking event at the Roman Way Hotel attended by more than 20 businesses from the region, who have expressed an interest in employing an apprentice.
Each apprentice place, which costs from around £2,500 to £4,500 is being funded by the Government’s Skills Funding Agency.
SSC Learning managing co-director Ian Shephard said: “The selection process has been vigorous, with the aim of finding young people who are already competent writers and familiar with social media, who can hone those skills through their 12-month apprenticeship.
“They will be employed to promote their companies using sites such as Facebook and Twitter, and through blogging, and will receive training each month from PR, marketing and journalism professionals from Passionate Media.”
Passionate Media directors Linda Jones and Carol Garrington already run social media workshops through Chase Chamber of Commerce.
They have developed and will deliver training modules to the apprentices, beginning with an intensive three weeks induction, which began last week and continues for a day each month for the next 11 months.
Ian’s co-director Andy Jacques added the social media apprenticeship was a new venture for them, as the company has traditionally worked in the social care sector.
But he said demand for these apprenticeships was high, both in terms of young people wanting to join, and businesses interested in taking them on.
“We’ve been aware for some time that there’s an awful lot of young people who are extremely bright and creative, yet don’t want to go to university and who are struggling to find routes into industries such as PR or journalism,” said Andy.
“These apprenticeships will give them at least 30 hours paid employment a week, many hours of training with PR and journalism professionals and a chance to make a career in an exciting and evolving industry.
“Employers will have the chance to build their on-line profile in new and innovative ways, as well as access to the professionals coaching the apprentices.”
Carol Garrington, of Passionate Media, said the apprentices would be huge assets to the companies taking them on.
“Most businesses are aware these days that they should be actively using social media to promote their companies, but so many lack the proper resources or know-how to do it effectively,” she said.
“Our learners are already using most of these social networking site, some will already be keen bloggers and commentators – this is fantastic potential for companies to tap into and use to promote their companies effectively.
"They are already hugely engaged with social media and have wowed us with their vision for how it can be used in a business environment.
“As well as devising the training modules, we’re also working with SSC to introduce the apprentices to employers and promoting the scheme to our business contacts. ”
At the launch event the 11 new apprentices had the chance to meet business leaders from the area interested in the scheme.
Ian Shephard said: “There was a very positive response from businesses at the launch who are really interested in getting involved in the apprenticeship scheme.
“Some very good contacts were made between the apprentices and business leaders which I’m confident will result in placements being arranged. It was a very positive start."