An Apprenticeship Catalogue for both businesses and apprentices

The challenge

With difficulties in the UK economy, challenges in the job market, and the cost of attending University growing, National Apprenticeship Week (NAW) has become an important event in the career calendar. The week comprises five national events which bring businesses of all sizes together with young apprentices. In 2013, a further 800 events were expected, organised by local businesses and training organisations to raise awareness of Apprenticeships and attract potential apprentices.

To support these efforts, and promote awareness of the event, the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) needed a solution which was easy to use and could be delivered in time for the high profile NAW2013. A self-service approach was needed to offer partners a choice of promotional materials and to make access to those materials as simple as possible. This solution needed to encourage participation and help businesses, training organisations and apprentices nationwide to benefit from the opportunities presented by National Apprenticeships Week. Williams Lea proposed their innovative white-labelled online catalogue for this challenging task.


NAS needed the new online catalogue designed, developed, tested and delivered in less than 6 weeks to allow sufficient time for businesses to browse and select promotional materials for their own events.

For a consistent NAS experience, the catalogue is branded and accessed via the NAS main website. The system is an aesthetically pleasing, familiar Amazon-style catalogue, designed to make ordering items quick and simple. There is a simple self-registration process, and users are then provided with security controls to manage their accounts online.

NAS takes advantage of a wide range of catalogue functionality, offering users a diverse range of products from logo kits, PR templates, presentations, brochures, posters and invitations through to customised mugs, memory sticks and pens.  Categories are logically structured offering clear navigation between free downloadable files, and paid-for materials. Within both merchandise and printing categories there are options to customise products with partner logos and bespoke messages. There is also an option for users to order NAS guidance literature free of charge to further support NAS partners in their efforts to promote apprenticeships.

The catalogue accepts credit card payments for paid-for items. Businesses can customise branded merchandise and printed materials to display their own messaging. Importantly, there is an inbuilt approval process that enables NAS to quickly approve or add comments on user submitted artwork before any production or download for print. Users have various rich features to enhance the ordering experience, including saving orders, artworks and projects for later, fast reorder, and full order history.


The catalogue was delivered just over a month before the NAW event and provided both apprentices and businesses with the ability to register online and use the catalogue to access support tools, as well as order and create promotional materials and products to support National Apprenticeship Week.

This progressive step to a self-service approach improved access to a greater range of information and products compared to the downloadable PDFs originally provided on the website. A broad range of reporting will enable NAS to track website activity and popularity of products offered which will help in the planning and development for subsequent events.

The flexibility of the catalogue means it can offer a strategic and scalable solution across other areas and events managed by NAS.


“Initially we thought it was an impossible task trying to find an online solution that could offer National Apprenticeship Week partners the opportunity to order our stock literature, merchandise and create customised artwork – but Williams Lea came up with the solution that ticked all the boxes. They worked with us closely throughout the development process to ensure the system specifications met our expectations and the project was delivered in time for the (National Apprenticeship) Week. The result was fantastic and over 93% of respondents that we surveyed after the Week said that the catalogue was useful, we now plan to make the catalogue a permanent resource for our partners.”

Harry Smith, Marketing and Communications Manager – Special Projects, National Apprenticeship Service


  • Managed access, online self-registration
  • Seamless user journey, branded and linked to client website
  • Intuitive user interface with ‘Amazon-style’ ordering
  • Bespoke branded print and promotional materials
  • Customisation options for print and merchandise products
  • Customisation and creation of artwork for self-print
  • Approval workflow ensuring all customised products are compliant
  • Hi res PDF previews  giving a true representation of final print work
  • Print on demand supply chain
  • Combination of free and paid for products
  • Variety of free downloadable files
  • Credit-card payments
  • Full order history
  • Repeat and quick order option
  • Ability to incorporate marketing banners
  • Comprehensive reporting

If you would like to discuss catalogue opportunities and requirements, please speak to your Williams Lea contact, who will guide you through;

  • Gathering requirements – for both technology and business processes
  • Scoping the project
  • Costing and project management
  • Development
  • Testing
  • Implementation