Claims on www.developingyourpotentialrec.org, in a tweet, and on recruitment websites www.monster.co.uk and www.totaljobs.com, seen in August and October 2017, promoted teaching assistant jobs:
a. Text on a page entitled "Job Search" from www.developingyourpotentialrec.org included several "Teaching Assistant" roles in various locations.
A page for a specific job in Liverpool stated, “Developing Your Potential Recruitment is seeking enthusiastic and committed candidates to join our agency that would welcome the potential opportunity to work in a classroom setting within schools in your area at all levels within the teaching sector. We are continuously working to build and maintain close partnerships with primary, secondary and SEN schools across the UK. We will canvas CV’s [sic] to schools within your area to maximise your chances of gaining supply/voluntary and long term teaching work”. It listed a number of “Teaching assistant role [sic] and responsibilities”. At the bottom of the page was a button stating “Apply for job”.
A page for a specific job in Leicestershire included the same text.
b. A tweet on the advertiser’s own page stated, “Check out these jobs! #careers”, and included a link to monster.co.uk.
c. A results page on www.monster.co.uk, which was linked to from ad (b), listed a number of teaching assistant jobs in various locations, showing a salary of “£12000 - £20000”. A page for a specific role in Slough included the same text as the specific ad pages in ad (a), and a button on the right-hand side stated, “Apply Now”, above text which stated, “Job Status/Type Full Time Permanent”.
d. A search results page on www.totaljobs.com listed a number of teaching assistant jobs in various locations. Text stated “£ Unspecified … Permanent”. Pages for specific roles in Hull and Leicester included the same text as the specific job pages in ad (a), and also included an “Apply” button at the bottom of the page, as well as a “Job ID” number, which was different for both jobs.
Leicestershire County Council Trading Standards, who understood that although the advertiser’s teaching assistant vacancies were not genuine, the advertiser was inviting applicants to interview to determine the applicant’s eligibility for a training course run by the advertiser, challenged whether the ads were misleading.
Developing Your Potential Recruitment Ltd said they were an employment agency and employment business. They provided a list of some of the schools they said they had an agreement with to introduce those seeking permanent employment to those schools. They said the list contained information about the vacancies those schools had. They said in addition they also operated on an ad hoc basis with regards to vacancies; that involved contacting schools when they had a quality candidate in their area. They would contact the school and offer the candidate to work with them, with the view to permanent employment. Developing Your Potential Recruitment said that was a very common practice within the recruitment industry because it was an effective way of creating relationships with new clients.
Developing Your Potential Recruitment pointed out that the ads in question stated one of the ways candidates might find employment was by canvassing CVs to schools within their area to maximise their chances of gaining supply or voluntary work and long-term teaching work.
Developing Your Potential Recruitment said respondents to the ads in question were offered an opportunity to apply for the respective vacancy. When a candidate responded to an ad, the company set out the process which followed several stages. The first was that the candidate would be contacted by a recruitment consultant, who assessed whether the candidate was suitable for the vacancy. Developing Your Potential Recruitment said the ads stated that applicants would be subject to assessment.
The second stage was that, if the applicant was deemed to be a good candidate, the candidate would be offered the opportunity to register with the company and have his or her information forwarded to the relevant school. They provided a copy of the company’s registration form, and said that applicants were also informed that they would be canvassed to other schools for roles of their choosing. They said those roles were determined by the selections made on the registration form.
The third stage was for applicants who were deemed not to be good candidates for the specific vacancies. The candidates would be informed that they had not been successful and would therefore not be put forward for the vacancy that they had applied for. They were offered the opportunity to register with the company and be canvassed to other schools for roles of their choosing.
The fourth stage was that some of the unsuccessful candidates would be offered the opportunity to complete Developing Your Potential Recruitment’s optional training course called The Essential Knowledge of Key Stage Teaching. Whether they were offered the course would be determined by whether the recruitment consultant thought the course would benefit them. Developing Your Potential Recruitment said the ads included information about the course.
Developing Your Potential Recruitment said the course was optional, which meant it was not a requisite to be registered with them. Unsuccessful candidates were given the opportunity to register with them irrespective of whether they decided to complete the course. They said they had removed the ads because the ads now referred to expired vacancies.
Developing Your Potential Recruitment said they were not able to provide evidence to demonstrate that the vacancies were genuine because many of the teaching assistant vacancies had a transient lifespan. However, they said that did not mean they did not have clients in all of the areas mentioned. They said they operated on an ad hoc basis regarding vacancies and reiterated that such canvassing of candidates was very common within the recruitment industry. They said employment agencies and businesses needed to have an up-to-date database of quality candidates in order to be able to operate effectively.
Developing Your Potential Recruitment said they did not use the ads as a lead generation tool for their training course but that, considering their business model which consisted of being an agency and a training centre, they did offer some applicants the opportunity to complete their optional training course.
Developing Your Potential Recruitment said they were willing to make changes to their advertising.
The ASA acknowledged that Developing Your Potential Recruitment said they were willing to make changes to their advertising. We considered that consumers would understand from the list of jobs on the search page in ad (a) that specific vacancies existed in the specific areas listed – for example, “Liverpool” and “Leicestershire”. On the individual job pages, although the ads stated that the advertiser would canvas CVs to schools within the area, we noted that the pages listed “Teaching assistant roles and responsibilities” and that there was an “Apply for job” button at the bottom of the page. We considered that consumers would expect that vacancies existed and could be filled if the candidate was successful.
We noted that ad (b) stated, “Check out these jobs!”, and again considered that consumers were likely to expect that this related to specific roles. Clicking on the link within the tweet led to ad (c), which displayed a list of “DEVELOPING YOUR POTENTIAL RECRUITMENT LTD Jobs & Careers”. The “Teaching Assistant” jobs listed stated salary ranges and areas of the UK, and we again considered that consumers would expect that vacancies existed and could be filled if the candidate was successful. The page for the job in Slough also included a salary range, a “Job Status Type” which was “Full Time Permanent”, and an “Apply Now” button. Those aspects were likely to reinforce the impression that a genuine vacancy was on offer, notwithstanding the text on the page that stated that the advertiser also offered ongoing additional support, including through “Continuing Professional Development”.
Ad (d) again listed “Teaching Assistant” jobs and described both the Hull job and the Leicester job as “Permanent”, although with an “Unspecified” salary. We considered that consumers were also likely to interpret those jobs listed as relating to genuinely existing vacancies. That impression was likely to be strengthened by the fact that both individual job pages included “Apply” buttons at the bottom of the page, and that the “role [sic] and responsibilities” of the teaching assistant role were set out.
We noted that the list provided by Developing Your Potential Recruitment outlined various schools that they worked with. A number of the vacancies listed for each school did not include teaching assistant roles and some locations, such as Liverpool, were not included in the list. Notwithstanding that, we did not consider a spreadsheet listing different schools and a list of corresponding roles was sufficient evidence to substantiate that the vacancies were genuine. We noted that the registration form was a generic one which did not relate to specific roles, thus did not consider it relevant to the claims in the ads.
Because we had not seen evidence that demonstrated the roles in the ads were genuine, we concluded that the ads were misleading.
The ads breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that consumers are likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation. The ASA may regard claims as misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation.
Employment marketing communications must relate to genuine vacancies and potential employees must not be asked to pay for information.
Living and working conditions must not be misrepresented. Quoted earnings must be precise; if one has to be made, a forecast must not be unrepresentative. If income is earned from a basic salary and commission, commission only or in some other way, that must be made clear. (Employment, homework schemes and business opportunities).
The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told Developing Your Potential Recruitment Ltd to ensure that advertised job vacancies were genuine, and that they held evidence to demonstrate that was the case.