The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) Code states that those offering vocational training or instruction should not give a misleading impression about the potential for employment that might follow.
In 2011, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld a complaint against an ad offering teacher training because it implied the advertiser could provide a career path that enabled applicants to join a school, be trained by the school, and end up employed by the school, when that was not the case (Recruitment and Development Solutions Ltd, 30 November 2011). Another teacher training ad that claimed “”100’S [sic] OF TEACHING & TEACHER ASSISTANT JOBS AVAILABLE…Exceptional demand for Teachers and Teacher Assistants in Primary/Secondary schools…100% Guaranteed School Placement” was also considered misleading, because it referred to a training placement rather than a paid teaching job (Schools Courses and Career Development, 18 July 2012).
Similarly, a recruitment ad for IT engineers was considered misleading as it implied that employment would be offered to successful candidates. The ASA considered the ad did not make clear that some successful candidates, including those who weren’t immediately successful but were invited to attend a 10-day training course, would be added to Cerco’s pool of candidates rather than gaining immediate employment in the advertised role (Cerco IT Training and Recruitment, 31 July 2013).
It would be acceptable, however, to invite readers to consider training as part of career development. For example, claims like “Bored with your job? Thinking about changing direction? We could help …” or “Ever fancied working in IT? We offer training that could get you on the right track” are likely to be acceptable. Absolute or guaranteed claims such as “Earn £x after training, guaranteed!” and “Become a driving instructor … Secure income of 23k – 30k” are likely to breach the Code.
More general claims about the relevant employment market may also be problematic. In 2011, the ASA upheld a complaint about an ad for plumbing and electrician courses that stated “more [plumbers] are leaving the industry than joining it” and “The shortage of plumbers [and electricians] is not just limited to specific regions, its [sic] all across the UK”, because the advertiser could not substantiate the claims (New Career Skills Ltd, 7 September 2011).
If a course fee is payable, this should be either clear from the context or stated – ads must not, for example, give the impression that a course is free if it’s not. The duration of the course and the level of attainment needed to embark on it may also need to be made clear depending on the circumstances. Whether the cost itself should be stated depends on whether it would be misleading to omit it in the context of the ad and the ASA will judge this on a case-by-case basis. In 2018, they upheld a complaint about an ad that stated “Proofreaders [sic] Earn £22+ Per Hour Working From Home!” for misleadingly omitting the cost of the course (Systematic Training and Trading Ltd t/a The Writers Bureau, 14 March 2018). In that case, the ASA noted that the actual cost of the course was £374 and that the ad featured the claim “No previous experience or special education required”. The ad also referred to potential earnings and the ability to work from home. In those circumstances, they ruled that the cost of the course was material information likely to influence a consumer’s decision to enquire further and therefore concluded that the omission in this context was misleading.
Note: This advice is given by the CAP Executive about non-broadcast advertising. It does not constitute legal advice. It does not bind CAP, CAP advisory panels or the ASA. CAP’s AdviceOnline entries provide guidance on interpreting the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing.
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