YouTube is 15 years old. What does this mean for apprenticeship recruiters?

YouTube is 15 years old on February 14th. Happy Birthday to the platform that has been synonymous with video for what seems like a lifetime.

For Generation Z it actually is a lifetime: they are the first generation to have not known a world without social media and mobile phones. They have literally grown up with YouTube.

This is reflected in user stats. The Global Web Index reported in 2019 that YouTube leads the way in popularity amongst Generation Z for visitors and users. And 9 in 10 of Gen Zers visit the platform at least once a month.

And closer to home, here's a screen shot of a member of my family who's 14 years old:

Yes, that's over 24 hours of YouTube in one week (and that's just on the mobile).

So with YouTube being a key platform for teenagers, what are employers doing to help guide them into the world of work?

Over the years I've audited many, many employers on social media and a stand out trend for early career marketing is how underutilised YouTube is. The charts show minimal publishing volumes in comparison to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Often YouTube is treated as a place to store videos rather than a search engine to aid discovery, learning and entertainment. There's more that can be done without having to rely solely on high end productions, it just needs some planning and scrutinising of budgets.

What's out there? During National Apprenticeship Week I searched for apprenticeships on YouTube and here are some of the most viewed and most relevant results.

The vlogger: There are key things that the people won't know, so these vlogger style videos demystify the basics of apprenticeships without needing to spend lots on production. With this type of video it's the content and the presenter that's more important than production quality. These videos are classic YouTube vlogger and have amassed over 56,000 views. There are vloggers-in-the-making in your organisation and a whole stack of things to demystify. And they belong on YouTube.

The show, don't tell: This could easily have been a talking heads interview but there's a nice day in the life angle that drops you in the middle of life as an apprenticeship in the RAF. Over 2,000 views is a modest amount but the title and description copy is optimised mainly for people who are searching for National Apprenticeship Week. More detail about the content of the video would've made this more findable.

The roving reporter: Staying with the RAF, we have Connor who goes around talking to apprenticeships in a roving reporter style. This is a very natural way to get insights about apprenticeship life compared to what can be a higher pressured studio shoot. This video has nearly 13,000 views. Good use of title description helps here as it is the first result when searching for Royal Air Force Apprenticeships on YouTube (something you'd expect people to search for given the profile of the organisation).

The story: Adam really gets into role in his apprentice story at Aldi. He re-enacts his story from feeling lost after college, finding Aldi, being tested and growing in confidence. Again, this could have easily been a talking heads video but this has some good story structure to it. It's nearly 4 years on YouTube but it still turns up in search results and has over 9,000 views.

The process: What might seem like common sense to people who have been interviewer or interviewee isn't common sense for someone who's new to the world of work. There's so much knowledge amongst early career recruitment teams that it's a shame not to share this more with the people who need it. The "Apprenticeship Interview" may feel too much like a staged training video but it does show the difference between a bad interview and a good interview. Published in 2012 it still turns up in search results and has over 413,000 views. The "Apprenticeship Interview Tips & Advice" video is far less staged and would have been very simple to set up but, again, it turns up in search results with over 40,000 views even though it was published in 2015. The sheer volume of views shows the power of this kind of helpful content.

There are plenty of videos on apprenticeships out there but many don't get the viewers to do the production time justice. There's certainly more that can be done with video and YouTube's popularity with Gen Z demands more time planning it into a content production and amplification strategy. Here are a few things worth bearing in mind:

Is your video content made with a search engine mindset? Think about what people will be searching for and how you can serve this rather than thinking about what you want to say first.

Is the topic of your video clear at first glance? Clear and concise titles and designed thumbnails (see the vlogger examples) will stand out more in a sea of videos on YouTube. It will also help your SEO on YouTube.

Does your YouTube Channel give reasons for people to subscribe? Again, vloggers are a good example of this. They have a video that tells people why they should subscribe and unashamedly ask people to like and subscribe in their videos. They will also plan out their videos with serving their subscribers at the heart of it.

Make sure you factor in a dedicated budget to promoting any video you produce. This ensures more of the right people will find it. Is a video great if nobody sees it?

Have you seen any great apprenticeship videos and YouTube channels? Do you have a YouTube strategy? I'd love you get your thoughts comments below.

This decade will surely see video become even more important and I hope to see YouTube play more of a role in employer marketing by the time YouTube turns 20 years old.

This is part of my Marketing 2020s series that looks at how we can all keep our marketing meaningful, relevant and up to date by looking at insights, new techniques and case studies. If you want to contribute to this feel free to get in touch here or on

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