This project, which was conducted by the Future of Work Team of a2i, contributed to the Government of Bangladesh’s efforts to promote apprenticeships.
More specifically, this project looked to encourage more businesses to register onto a newly developed National Apprenticeship Management System (www.apprenticeship.gov.bd) to learn about formal apprenticeship programmes and the support offered by the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET).
We first collaborated with a2i to support the development of the National Apprenticeship Management System, from its initiation through to its launch. We used our experience of behavioural insights to ensure that it was user-friendly, engaging and attractive to businesses.
We then worked together to develop and evaluate direct communications to businesses to encourage them to join the portal. To do so, we developed a communication, which was designed to be simple, attractive and to encourage businesses to take action. We additionally varied:
● The framing of benefits: We do not yet have a good understanding of the best ways to motivate businesses to hire apprentices. The GoB, when promoting apprenticeships, tends to talk about their wider social benefits. We were interested to see whether framing apprenticeships in terms of private benefits (i.e. for businesses) would be more effective.
● The communication channel: This was, to our knowledge, the first direct email or letter communication sent by a2i to businesses. We therefore aimed to compare the effectiveness of both channels.
We conducted a four-arm randomised controlled trial with over 7,000 formal businesses to test the effects of communication channel and content on registration rates.
We found no significant difference in the effect of communications sent by email vs. letter, or in the effect of communications framing the benefits of apprenticeships as social vs. private. Our results did, however, suggest that direct communications could be very effective in encouraging engagement with new government programmes: our communications led to average registration rates close to 7.5% (and closer to 10% for those who had provided an email address).
These are very promising results for an un-incentivised new government communication.Given that emails are significantly cheaper and easier to send out to large volumes of recipients, this also suggests that they might be a more cost-effective way to communicate than letters when trying to reach businesses for whom both means of communications are available.
This report presents this trial and the work that went into it in detail, and shares several recommendations to further develop the use of direct communications to promote government programmes.