National Minimum Comms

Posted on 10/11/2010

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A tweet alerted me to an interesting discussion about government communications in the HR sector.

While the National Minimum Wage (NMW) has been around for years, recent changes and continuing problems with enforcement means that communications both to employees and employers has been a role the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has fulfilled.

You can read more about Sarah Welfare‘s investigation on the XpertHR Blog.

What struck me most about the government’s assertion that:

…there is “near saturation of internet access and confident usage amongst those under 25” – awareness-raising can be done via free or low-cost online content.

For under £10,000 if reports are accurate.

What tosh.

The changes which need communicating will affect younger workers and Apprentices. While internet saturation is indeed high among this audience (just 1% of the 16-24 group are not online according to latest Office of National Statistics data). There are three main problems:

1) Usage does not mean competence. Even the government’s Race Online 2012 initiative has shown that 1.6m children don’t have access to the internet at home (see the PWC report for indepth discussions on this). So many will not be as online literate as the government may assume.

2) This group are not easy to reach.  In fact the ONS data shows that 36% of 16-24s don’t use the internet for finding out information about goods and services (see table 6, p13 of the 27/08/10 statistical release for online behaviour). They will not be logging onto a Guardian news story on NMW changes nor HR websites or LinkedIn discussions on low pay.

No. They will be going to football sites, entertainment sites and sites related to their work or social networks (this info is readily available on Google Ad Planner for those who want to have a play with website audiences). It will be very difficult for the government to get NMW messages through to this audience, without creatives or extensive ‘seeding’ of messages and creatives cost money – even at a basic level.

3) What is the plan for the 1%?  These are most likely to be those who will be in need of information on NMW and provision needs to be made to communicate with them.

So while communication with this group can be done, it will not be for the £10,000 which the government has earmarked.

And that’s just the analysis of the young person’s audience.

Will turn to employers soon!