An ad on a job listings website placed by Netcom Access Skills C.I.C, seen on 22 July 2016. The ad stated "IT Support Technician 14000-25000 | Birmingham | Permanent IT Support Technicians 9 positions available Midlands biggest IT Support firms are currently recruiting for Trainee IT Support Technicians ... Full time and part time positions available Average starting salary can be anything between 14k up to 25k depending on experience ... Bonuses and 28 days paid holiday".
The complainant, who was invited for an interview after responding to the ad, but subsequently came to understand that respondents were instead invited to sign up to training courses offered by Netcom Training and therefore believed the vacancies were not genuine, challenged whether the ad was misleading.
Netcom Training Ltd stated that they were an IT training and recruitment provider. They provided vendor specific training for large organisations and for individuals. They also helped individuals to find relevant work as part of their training.
Netcom said they worked with large employers in the Midlands who recruited for IT staff. As part of the agreement with them, Netcom provided those employers with their own candidates as well as direct applications. Candidates who met the criteria would have their CVs passed on directly to those employers.
Netcom believed the ad clearly showed that the opportunity was a dual application, consisting of one job vacancy and training, and therefore by putting in an application, the candidate would be applying for both. They also explained that the second aspect of the advertised opportunity, which related to initial training before the job started, would be fully funded by the Skills Funding Agency. They further stated that their selection process was vigorous and explained that no applicants would be offered to sign up for training on the day of their initial interview; they would simply be given a leaflet about the training courses that they offered. If candidates were interested in enrolling in the training courses, they could contact Netcom or discuss directly with the recruiter when receiving feedback about the interview.
Netcom said that they held email correspondence with a representative of a computer specialist organisation which confirmed the number of candidates that had been placed, as well as emails with one of the largest IT employers in the Midlands confirming the candidates that they required.
The ASA noted that the ad was headed “IT Support Technicians 9 positions available”, with references such as “Midlands biggest IT Support firms are currently recruiting for Trainee IT Support Technicians”, “... immediate start dates available”, and “Full time and part time positions available”. The ad also referred to the opportunity as “positions”, “role” and “job”, and included information about the responsibilities entailed, the salary range, bonuses, holidays, and other features that would be included (“company lap top [sic] and phone depending on position selected”). We considered that the ad was likely to give an overall impression that Netcom was recruiting candidates for specific entry level or trainee roles for a number of clients, which were immediately available. The ad also stated “No experience needed as full training is provide [sic]”, “This is a trainee role and full training is provided ...”, “IT Basic Desktop and Network experience is an advantage though not necessary as you could be selected to have fully funded training before you start the job”. Notwithstanding Netcom’s views that the ad made clear that the opportunity was a dual application, we considered that consumers were likely to understand from the ad that successful candidates would receive prior training from the prospective employers as part of the employment.
We noted Netcom stated that they held email correspondence with employers, either confirming the number of candidates placed in or required for their organisations. However, we had not been provided with a copy of that correspondence, or any other documentary evidence, which demonstrated that the vacancies advertised were genuine or that successful applicants had been placed in those roles.
Because we considered that consumers were likely to understand that the ads were recruiting for specific IT support technician roles with training provided by the employer, and because we had not seen documentary evidence to substantiate that the roles were genuine, we concluded that that ad was misleading.
The ad 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 ad must not appear in its current form again. We told Netcom Training Ltd to ensure that future ads did not imply that they were recruiting for specific roles on behalf of specific clients, unless they held adequate evidence to demonstrate that the roles were genuine vacancies.