Launched during National Apprenticeship Week (March 11 – 15) by Gateshead College, the social media apprenticeship enables small and medium businesses to have the skills they need to be able to better drive online activity and improve the way they engage with customers.
A survey of over 500 companies carried out by eConsultancy and Experian in 2012 found businesses were planning on expanding their digital marketing presence and subsequent departments but felt the shortage of skilled workers in this area was preventing them from fully harnessing digital media.
The new 12-month programme with Gateshead College will allow businesses to maximise on all areas of their social media including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn and the use of blogging. Learning is completed through Gateshead College in the workplace with minimum disruption to the business.
Mick Brophy, managing director for business, innovation and development at Gateshead College, said: “We’ve developed the social media apprenticeship to help businesses to really reap the rewards of social media.
“Many companies and organisations are already utilising social media on some level in their marketing strategies but businesses are looking for more digital marketing capability and capacity which is increasing the demand for skilled people in the sector.
“Platforms like Facebook and Twitter are completely changing the way we engage and this includes customer communication. For example, one out of every seven minutes an individual spends online is currently spent on Facebook so it’s vital that businesses are not left behind and keep up to date with social media uses.”
In February 2013, provisional data from the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) reported that in the previous 12 months Government funding for companies taking on their first apprentice had led to the creation on 18,900 apprenticeships. Small and medium businesses taking on their first apprentice in 2013 can access a grant of £1,500.
Gateshead College also employed its own first digital apprentice through the North East Apprenticeship Company (NEAC).
Sarah Whitehouse, from Chester-le-Street, will be tasked with creating interesting content, including filmed interviews, event photographs and coverage of VIP visits and other student-led activities at Gateshead College and out in the community.
Sarah, 19, said: “This is a really exciting opportunity and I’m pleased to be doing my apprenticeship at Gateshead College. I’ve only been in post for a few days but I am enjoying every minute so far.
“It’s a great opportunity for me to be able to train while working full-time and earning a wage.”
Kari Owers, owner of OPR, PR and social media strategy consultancy in Newcastle, said: “Managing their social community day to day across multi channels is becoming an ever increasing demand on companies.
“Customers expect real time communication and interesting, frequent and engaging content from the brands they follow online. A social media apprentice scheme is a great way of supporting young people in harnessing the opportunity to bring their online savvy into businesses.”