Blog Post

Sheffield Apprenticeships - local branding, open data and fast software development

Sheffield Apprenticeships is an online service for young people (and parents) who are looking for apprenticeship vacancies in Sheffield. It’s a free service developed and hosted by local software development consultancy Sheaf Digital.

Sheffield Apprenticeships on Twitter

There are three parts to the service - an app for iOS and Android, a Twitter account and a Facebook page. All three use vacancy data that comes from the ESFA apprenticeship database. Sheaf Digital’s software takes the data and posts vacancies automatically to Twitter and Facebook. The Sheffield Apprenticeships mobile app also uses the ESFA’s developer API (application programming interface) - users of the app can see vacancies sorted by location and view individual vacancies.

Sheffield Apprenticeships is a great example of what you can do with open data, some relatively simple free software and a bit of local branding. At Sheaf Digital we wanted to do something that would:

  1. Have a positive impact on young people in Sheffield

  2. Be relatively quick and easy to develop

  3. Get us a little bit of free local PR

The coding side of it was straightforward - Facebook, Twitter and the ESFA developer API are all easy to work with. The brand - Sheffield Apprenticeships - is very important because apprenticeships are local; people want apprenticeships that are near to where they live.

We’ve learnt a few lessons along the way:

  1. Parents are important. Facebook is a good way to reach that audience, particularly mums.

  2. We started with Twitter, but soon realised that it’s not the obvious place to go when you’re a young person looking for an apprenticeship. Something extra was needed.

  3. Many young people (and parents) in Sheffield have heard about apprenticeships, but they don’t really have sense of what is available.

  4. Young people do most of their online activity on their phones - a Sheffield Apprenticeships mobile app makes complete sense.

  5. Covid has had a massive impact on the number of vacancies - down by more than two thirds. Let's hope we bounce back quickly.

The Sheffield Apprenticeships app can be downloaded from the App Store and the Google Play store. You can also find Sheffield Apprenticeships on Twitter and Facebook at @sheffapprentice. And we list all current Sheffield apprenticeship vacancies on our website at .

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